PHOENIX -- This is why they have to play the games. On paper, Monday night's matchup between the Phillies and D-backs at Chase Field appeared to be a mismatch, pitting $120 million man Cliff Lee against $423,000 man Ian Kennedy.
Lee struck out 12 and Kennedy whiffed 10. Lee walked one and Kennedy strolled none. Lee allowed five hits and Philadelphia managed only three off Kennedy. Lee was pelted for two homers, Kennedy none.
Final score: D-backs 4, Phillies 0.
"He pitched great," Lee said about his counterpart. "To shut down our lineup like that you have to be doing something right. I wouldn't have expected him to go nine innings without letting up a run. That was impressive. He did a great job tonight and that's that."
Lee made two early mistakes and that cost the Phillies the ballgame, allowing homers to Chris Young and Gerardo Parra. The Phillies came into the game with the best record in baseball and on a five-game winning streak. The loss left them at 15-7, tied with Colorado.
On the upside, though, the left-handed Lee lost for the second time in four decisions, he pitched seven innings and equaled his season strikeout high. Lee also whiffed 12 on April 14 in a three-hit, shutout win at Washington. His career high of 13 came last July 27 against the A's as a member of the Rangers.
"[Lee's] a great pitcher," said Young, who hit a two-run homer (his fifth) in the third, two innings before Parra's solo shot, his first of the season. "We took advantage of a few mistakes and that was pretty much the ballgame. We had a pitcher who goes out there and throws a shutout. It doesn't take much [offense] when someone does that."
Kennedy (3-1) pitched the first shutout of his career and allowed only two runners as far as second base. He's now 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in two career starts against the Phillies since coming to Arizona from the Yankees in a multi-team deal prior to the 2010 season.
The D-backs had just come off a three-game sweep by the Mets in New York and four losses in a row. But in the last week, they've won three out of four over the Phillies and Reds. Hard to figure.
The Phillies' offense, though, has been struggling. Although they swept a four-game weekend series against the Padres at PETCO Park, the Phils scored just 12 runs in doing so. Veteran left fielder Raul Ibanez, who came into the game in an 0-for-18 slump and left having extended it to 0-for-21, is at .179 overall and may be the most desperate of the bunch.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said it was part Kennedy, part his own team's lack of punch.
About Kennedy, Manuel said: "He was aggressive with his fastball, changed speeds on us and threw the ball in and out on us. He didn't stay on us in one place. He did a good job. He pitched a similar game to the one he pitched against us last year. He wasn't doing nothing cute or anything like that. He was just pitching."
About his team's suddenly drifting offense, Manuel added: "You don't want to send a negative message when you're winning, but at the same time I think our guys know what they're capable of hitting. I have an old saying that if you're not hitting .300, you need help and I'll always have that."
At the end of the evening, the top hitter in Philadelphia's lineup was Placido Polanco at .372 with Shane Victorino next up at .276. That means almost every guy in Manuel's world needs help.
There has been a dichotomy to Lee's season as well. Since he returned to Philly as a free agent this past winter, he has allowed three runs and seven hits in his two victories over the Astros and Nationals. In contrast, he was touched for 10 runs and 15 hits in his pair of losses. The other loss came at Atlanta on April 8. In the middle, Lee struck out only one the previous time out against the Brewers when he didn't earn a decision.
Sometimes that's the difference between reality and what it looks like on paper.
"I felt as great as I felt out there all year," Lee said about Monday night's performance. "I just ran into a couple. About every hit they got resulted in a run. It's not too often that that happens. But I've got to do a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark. Period."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.