CINCINNATI Charlie Manuel looked Cliff Lee in the eye.
I want Madson, Manuel said.
You sure? Lee said.
Damn sure, Manuel said.
Lee came within one out one strike, really of his sixth shutout of the season as the Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds, 3-0, on Monday night.
When Lee loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth on a double, a walk and a hit batsman, Manuel went to Madson, who slammed the door for his 25th save and the teams majors-leading 19th shutout.
Despite pitching a gem for his 15th win, Lee was frustrated with himself for not finishing what he started.
It isnt often you pitch 8 23 innings and not give up a run and somehow not feel good about it when its over, he said. But Madson came in and got the out so its hard to question the move. Obviously I wanted to stay in the game, but I wasnt able to finish them off.
Despite a bit of turbulence in his final inning of August, Lee had a brilliant month. He went 5-0 and allowed just two runs in 39 23 innings for an ERA of 0.45. In June, Lee went 5-0 with an 0.21 ERA as he allowed just one run in 42 innings.
He is just the third pitcher in major league history to have a 5-0 record with an ERA under 1.00 in two separate months in the same season. The others: Hall of Famers Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson. When Lee heard that, he did what he usually does when he gets excited. He shrugged.
I hope I have a good September and October, too, he said.
With Cole Hamels having come off the disabled list, the Phillies believe they have their starting rotation in order for the final month of the season. Hamels, Roy Halladay and Lee have opened this series against the Reds by allowing just one run in 21 23 innings over three Phillies wins. The team looks for continued success and a sweep Thursday with Vance Worley on the mound.
Lee allowed six hits, one walk and struck out seven, giving him 198 on the season. He continued to mix in breaking balls at opportune times, a strategy that has prevented hitters from sitting on his fastball, a pitch he loves to throw.
Lee credited his catcher, Carlos Ruiz, for managing a good game behind the plate. Ruiz had three of the Phillies eight hits and made two big defensive plays.
He was a huge part of this win, Lee said.
Lee has twice been a big acquisition by the Phillies on general manager Ruben Amaros watch. The latest big acquisition Hunter Pence continued to be a huge difference maker with a solo homer, his second in has many nights. Pence has seven homers and 17 RBIs in 27 games since joining the Phillies.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard drove in the Phils other two runs with ground balls. Otherwise, it was a slow night for the Phils bat against lefty Dontrelle Willis. The Phils went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Lee was on his way to becoming the first Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1982 to have six shutouts in a season when things unraveled in the ninth. He allowed a two-out double to Joey Votto, walked Jay Bruce with a full-count pitch and hit Miguel Cairo with an 0-2 pitch.
Manuel came onto the field after Lee hit Cairo to load the bases. At first, Manuel went to first-base umpire Jim Wolf to ask if Cairo leaned into the ball. Lee thought there was a chance hed stay in the game when Manuel didnt come straight to the mound. But Manuel eventually got to the mound and took the ball from Lee.
It wasnt a tough decision, Manuel said. I had a guy down there in the bullpen with big stuff. Cliff pitched a real good game, but it was time to get him. I wanted him to go out on a good note. He wasnt going to lose that game.
Madson retired Yonder Alonso on three pitches to end the game.
Lee will have another month of starts to get that sixth shutout.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.