Cliff Lee was brilliant. Julio Teheran was one pitch better.
Lee threw a career-high 128 pitches, struck out 13 and allowed one run in nine gutsy innings, but he was out-dueled Wednesday night by the 23-year-old righty, who scattered three hits in shutting out the Phillies 1-0 at chilly Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
The only run of the game came in the top of the fourth, when Braves catcher Evan Gattis smacked an 0-2 fastball just over the left-field wall. It was the second of Gattis’ four hits.
“I had to battle,” Lee said. “I had to work a lot with guys on base. I had a good changeup going today that I threw a lot and got a lot of good results out of it. But the pitch to Gattis, I made a mistake.
“It was 0-2, he had just fouled off the previous fastball that was in the same spot. He fouled it straight back, he was right on it and I tried to elevate a fastball. It wasn't a bad spot, but it wasn't the spot I was trying to go to -- down and in.
“He's a big strong guy, and he's not swinging easy and when he connects it's usually hit pretty hard. I think a lot of guys hit that same ball with the same trajectory, and it's not going to be a homer. But he's strong enough to get enough behind it to get it out of here. I've just got to make a better pitch. That's the only thing I can do about it."
Teheran retired 23 of the first 24 batters he faced, allowing only a fifth-inning infield single to Ryan Howard through 7⅔ innings.
He needed only 79 pitches to get through seven innings, then struggled through the final two innings. Jimmy Rollins singled with two outs in the ninth and stole second, but Chase Utley’s sharp grounder to second ended it on Teheran’s 115th pitch.
“The cold didn’t bother me,” he said. “When it’s cold, I try to focus even more and not pay attention to the weather.”
Teheran is only the sixth pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout against the Phillies in the last eight years. It was his first career complete game.
Teheran (2-1, 1.93) has now allowed only six earned runs and 23 hits in 28 innings this year.
He became only the fifth pitcher to throw a shutout allowing three or fewer hits against the Phillies in the last eight years.
The last time the Phils were blanked on three hits or less at home was May 14, 2003, when Curt Schilling, then with the Diamondbacks, two-hit them at the Vet.
“Both pitchers were unbelievable,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Lee was excellent. The homer just got over the fence. Teheran was terrific. He was dominating. He threw a great pitch to Utley to end it.
“It was the kind of game you live on every pitch. He deserved to go out in the ninth. It wasn’t a tough decision.”
Lee came back out for the ninth despite throwing 114 pitches through eight. He gave up a couple singles, fanned Jason Heyward with one out and second and third, then got B.J. Upton to pop out on his 128th pitch.
That’s the most pitches by any Phillies starter since Roy Halladay threw 130 against the Padres in 2011.
“I felt like I did what I needed to do, you’ve got to give credit to the opposing pitcher,” Lee said. “We didn’t score, he shut us out, so he was obviously doing something right.”
Lee became the first pitcher in major-league history to lose two games in which he struck out 13 or more batters and allowed one run. Those two games are his last two starts against the Braves -- last Sept. 27 in Atlanta and Wednesday night. In those two games, Lee pitched 17 innings, struck out 26, walked one and lost both.
“All I can worry about is making pitches and throwing strikes, and I can’t worry about the guys behind me making plays,” Lee said. “I assume they’re going to, and I assume we’re going to hit and score runs. Occasionally, you run into a pitcher that’s on top of what he’s doing, like tonight, and he shut us out, and that’s part of the game.
“Looking back on it, I made a mistake on the one pitch that cost me a run, and that’s my fault. I’ve got to do a better job than that on an 0-2 count.
“I’d rather give up three or four runs and us get the win, but it didn’t happen that way.”
Lee has allowed only three earned runs over 22 innings in his last three starts but has only one win to show for it.
“He pitched one heck of a game,” Ben Revere said. “I mean, it was phenomenal. Everyone in here is frustrated, just because he pitches so well and gets the loss.
“But with that, we know we need to come out and pick him up the next time. It’s just frustrating.”
Lee said it was important for him to come out and pitch the ninth, even though he had already thrown 114 pitches.
“I felt strong on the last pitch and I felt strong on the first pitch,” he said. “That’s what you want to do, you want to be a guy that they’re going to let go back out there after you’ve thrown 100-plus pitches and pitch the ninth inning.
“That’s what I expect to do, and I’m glad they allow me to do that. That’s what I work in the offseason for and prepare my body to do, so it’s not anything that’s that crazy to me.”