Cliff Lee insists he isn’t going for strikeouts.
Lee had seven strikeouts in eight strong innings, and Chase Utley homered and drove in four runs to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
Lee (6-5) passed teammate Roy Halladay for the league lead in strikeouts, upping his season total to 107. He allowed four hits and one run while walking two.
"They keep swinging and missing,” he said. “As long they get out, I don’t care how it is. I’m not trying to strike guys out.”
Utley gave Philadelphia the early lead with a two-run double in the first and provided some insurance with a two-run homer in the eighth. Shane Victorino had three hits, scored three runs and drove in one for Philadelphia, which has won three of four.
It was a big step for Utley, who returned from the DL on May 23 after being sidelined since the start of the season with right knee tendinitis. It was the second homer and second double in 17 games for Utley, who raised his average to .242 by going 2 for 5.
“He’s a big part of our offense, a big part of our team,” Lee said. “He’s an unbelievable player who works as hard as anyone and I expect him to get on a roll.”
“It’s taken him some at-bats to get his swing back,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Utley.
Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez also had RBIs for Philadelphia.
Darwin Barney had two hits for the Cubs, who have dropped 10 of 12.
Lee improved to 4-0 in five career starts against the Cubs. The left-hander has worked at least seven innings in nine of his 14 starts this season. It was the fourth time he has gone at least eight innings, including one complete game. He has won four of his last five starts.
“Sometimes you get locked in and I’m hoping I’m getting into that,” Lee said. “But there’s always something to work on, always something to get better at.”
Lee and the Phillies were at their positions to start when they had to hustle to the dugout as rains came pouring down just before the scheduled first pitch. Lee stayed warm in the clubhouse, waited out the 32-minute delay and pitched as scheduled. It could’ve been a different story had Lee thrown some pitches.
“We definitely didn’t want to lose Cliff’s start,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He was a little upset, but it definitely turned out to be a good day for us.”
The Cubs wouldn’t have minded had Lee’s start been affected by the rain.
“They’re tough,” Cubs manager said of Lee and Halladay, who threw seven shutout innings in the Phillies’ 7-5 win over Chicago Friday. “You’ve got to come with your ‘A’ game when you face them. You’ve got to do everything right.”
Cubs right-hander Matt Garza (2-6) was making his second career start at Citizens Bank Park after pitching Game 3 of the 2008 World Series for the Rays against Philadelphia. He got a no-decision in the Phillies’ 5-4 win, giving up six hits, including three homers, in six innings.
The right-hander was making his second start after returning Monday from a right elbow contusion that sidelined him May 18. He pitched well Saturday, allowing two runs—one earned—on five hits while striking out four and walking three, one intentional.
“Garza was fantastic,” Cubs manager Quade said. “Only one earned run he did a hell of a job.”
Garza wasn’t disappointed with his outing, although he’d want to pitch deeper into the game.
“I threw way too many pitches and you can’t do that against Cliff Lee,” said Garza, who threw 113. “You’ve got to last longer in the game. It was a step forward though. I had a good curveball today.”
Jimmy Rollins led off the first with a liner to second that was dropped by Cubs second baseman Barney for an error. After an infield single by Victorino, Utley hit his two-run double to left.
The Cubs got a run back in the third, on Lou Montanez’s two-out RBI single to right that scored Starlin Castro.
The Phillies loaded the bases in the sixth with one out on just one hit, but Garza struck out Lee on three pitches and got Rollins to ground out to second to escape the jam.
But Philadelphia got a pair of runs in the seventh to take a 4-1 lead. Howard singled home Victorino, who had doubled, off Cubs reliever Sean Marshall to make it 3-1. The run snapped a 14 1-3 scoreless streak by Chicago relievers, while Victorino’s leadoff double was just the fourth extra-base hit Marshall had allowed against 108 batters.
Howard, who had been 2 for 20 entering his at-bat, then scored on Ibanez’s two-out double to left that just eluded diving left fielder Blake DeWitt. Since snapping an 0-for-35 skid on May 3, Ibanez is batting .317 (44 for 139).
The Phillies tacked on three runs in the eighth with two outs, on Victorino’s single to center and Utley’s homer to right. All of the runs were off righty Casey Coleman, who was recalled from Triple-A Iowa prior to the game. To make room for Coleman, the Cubs designated outfielder Brad Snyder for assignment.