Cliff Lee Walks Career High, Cy Westbrook Shuts Down Phils Offense

Cliff Lee Walks Career High, Cy Westbrook Shuts Down Phils Offense

The slump isn't quite over… The Phils lost their third straight on Monday night—the first time they've lost three in a row so far this season. Cliff Lee looked human although not altogether terrible, giving up a career-high six walks on the way to a 3-1 Phils loss to the Cardinals. He pitched just 6.1 innings, giving up three runs against four Ks. So far on the season, Lee's at a 3.84 ERA.  

And yet, the walks are the easy storyline because they're the only difference in the daily routine lately. The Phillies offense was again nearly impossible to find.

Jimmy Rollins had the only multi-hit night for the Phils, although Ryan Howard drew three home-cooked walks (incidentally, the only walks given up by Cardinals pitching on the night). Jake Westbrook limited them to four hits and a lone earned run, easily one of his better starts of the season. If you want the comfy line, rest on a tight strike zone called by Gerry Davis and the fact that the Phillies fielded a starting group that included Wilson Valdez, John Mayberry Jr, Ben Francisco, and Pete Orr.

The highlight of the night for me was Michael Stutes coming into a pressure-cooker situation in the bottom of the seventh. Nick Punto had singled himself on, then got sac'd over by Kyle Lohse. A bit of fun at the expense of a pair of pre-WFCs. After a Ryan Theriot walk, Jon Jay singled in Punto and moved The Riot up to second. Due up—with one out—was Albert Pujols. Matt Holliday was in the on-deck circle.

Clifton Phifer's night was done, and Stutes came in. Immediately, I was more interested than I'd been at any point in the game. Would this be an unraveling point or a proving ground?

Stutes got the best hitter in baseball to to ground into a double play, safely stranding a pair of runners with Holliday on his way back to get his glove and hat.

Unfortunately, this wasn't a winning relief appearance. The Phils failed to scratch out more than a hit against  Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas, earning every bit of their 3-1 loss. The Cards hadn't given up less than six runs in their previous three outings.

Not a great night for watching baseball. Not a bad night for being like, HEY… I didn't get my full weekend's worth of drinking in, I'ma hit the big beers and a scotch on a Monday. Fortunately there are a few games left in the season.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).