Lee beats former team, Phillies down Rangers

By ROB MAADDI | May 21, 2011 | 9:59 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of an interleague baseball game on Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cliff Lee threw eight dominant innings against the team he led to the World Series last year, Ryan Howard hit a solo homer and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Texas Rangers 2-0 Saturday night.

Lee (3-4) allowed five hits and struck out 10 to earn his first win since April 14. The lefty helped the Rangers capture the first AL pennant in franchise history after joining them last July. But he turned down more money from Texas and the New York Yankees to return to Philadelphia, signing a $120 million, five-year deal.

Rangers starter Colby Lewis (4-5) gave up two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He didn't get any support from a struggling offense that's scored only 11 runs in the last five games. Texas is 1-4 in that span.

Howard snapped a career-worst 0 for 23 slump when he connected to give the NL East-leading Phillies a 1-0 lead in the second. He ripped a 1-1 fastball a few rows deep in right.

That's all Lee needed. Ryan Madson finished for his ninth save in as many tries.

Fans and everyone in Philadelphia's dugout had a scare in the third when Lewis led off with a liner off Lee's back. The ball caromed to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who threw out Lewis. In his typically nonchalant style, Lee waved off the trainer when he ran out to the mound and didn't even take a warmup pitch.

Lee was back to himself with excellent command after walking a career-high six batters in his last start. He struck out the side on 10 pitches in the fifth and walked two.

John Mayberry Jr. hit an RBI single with two outs in the sixth for a 2-0 lead. Lewis ran into trouble after striking out Placido Polanco and Howard. He walked Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz before Mayberry lined a hit to left.

Lee hasn't received much run support lately. The Phillies scored 11 runs in his previous six starts.

He tried to help his own cause with a two-out single that kept the fifth going. Lee then swiped second for his first career steal. After Rollins was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Domonic Brown flied out to end the inning.

Lee began last season with Seattle after the Phillies traded him on the same day they acquired Roy Halladay from Toronto in December 2009. He was dealt from the Mariners to the Rangers before the All-Star break and went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts for Texas. Lee was dominant in the first two rounds of the postseason, going 3-0 with an 0.75 ERA to help the Rangers beat Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees.

Lee entered the World Series with a 7-0 record and a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts before losing twice to the San Francisco Giants, who beat Texas in five games.

The Phillies had eight hits, snapping a streak of seven straight games with six or less. They've scored just 15 runs in their last eight games, going 3-5.

NOTES: Rangers manager Ron Washington said AL MVP Josh Hamilton will DH when he returns from the disabled list. Hamilton (shoulder) and OF Nelson Cruz (quad) continued their rehab stints at Triple-A Round Rock, and could return Monday. ... Five-time All-Star 2B Chase Utley (knee) is moving closer to returning to the Phillies. He played in his fourth straight rehab game Saturday night at Single-A Clearwater and was 2 for 5. ... RF Brown, the Phillies' top prospect, made his first start after starting the season at Triple-A following hand surgery in spring training. He batted second and was 0 for 4. ... A crowd of 45,604 was the 160th straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park, including postseason play. ... Polanco struck out twice in a game for the first time since last Sept. 8 vs. Florida. ... Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler snapped an 0 for 18 skid with a single in the sixth. ... It was Lee's 14th career double-digit strikeout game.