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Carlos Lee up to Cliff Lee, not enough for Astros

By Rob Maaddi

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, April 2 2011 9:00 p.m. MDT

PHILADELPHIA — Carlos Lee wouldn't let that other Lee outdo him.

Lee had three hits and four RBIs, falling a double short of the cycle, but Cliff Lee stymied the rest of the Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies beat Houston 9-4 Saturday night.

Lee and Angel Sanchez had the only four hits off the ace lefty, who made his much-anticipated return to Philadelphia.

"Basically Carlos Lee was their offense," Cliff Lee said. "He had an unbelievable game."

In his first game back with the Phillies in front of fans who adore him, Cliff Lee even heard cheers after striking out.

Lee can do no wrong in Philadelphia — except retire Carlos Lee.

The slugger is 8 for 21 with three homers and seven RBIs against the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner.

"There are guys that are harder to get out than others," Cliff Lee said. "He's definitely been a difficult out for me."

A day after rallying against closer Brandon Lyon for a comeback win in the ninth, the Phillies roughed up starter Wandy Rodriguez (0-1). He allowed seven runs and nine hits in four-plus innings.

"I thought he had better stuff than the runs showed," Astros manager Brad Mills said.

Rodriguez was disappointed with the results.

"I really thought I had good location," he said. "I felt fine out there. I thought I threw mainly good pitches."

Lee (1-0) allowed three runs and four hits, striking out 11 in seven innings. Raul Ibanez was 2 for 3 with two walks, two RBIs and three runs to pace a 14-hit attack.

The four-time NL East champion Phillies stunned the baseball world when they swept in and signed Lee to a $120 million, five-year contract in December. Lee turned down more money from the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to return to Philadelphia.

His addition made the Phillies instant favorites to win their second World Series title in four years and gave them a starting rotation that's already been compared to some of the all-time best.

Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels are all aces, and Joe Blanton might be the best No. 5 starter in the majors.

Lee received a rousing standing ovation during pregame introductions. Fans stayed on their feet and continued applauding for his entire walk from the bullpen to the dugout.

Lee got another ovation when he came to the plate in the second. He even got cheers on his way back to the dugout after striking out and running to first because the ball eluded catcher J.R. Towles.

Coming off their dramatic finish in Friday's opener, the Phillies got started quickly in this one.

Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins hit consecutive one-out singles in the first. Ryan Howard followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. After Ben Francisco struck out, Ibanez hit a double off the wall in left-center to make it 2-0.

Lee struck out three of the first five batters he faced and didn't allow a hit until Sanchez led off the fourth with a single. Carlos Lee then drove a triple to right-center to cut the Phillies' lead to 2-1.

Lee escaped further trouble by striking out Bill Hall and retiring Chris Johnson on a bouncer to the mound.

"He threw 80-90 percent fastballs and mixed in some change-ups," Hall said. "We tried to adjust so he went to his cutter."

After Lee sacrificed runners to second and third in the bottom half, Victorino looped a two-run single to right to make it 4-1.

The Phillies chased Rodriguez in the fifth after Francisco hit an RBI double and Ibanez followed with a run-scoring single. Enerio Del Rosario entered and allowed an RBI single to Wilson Valdez that made it 7-1.

Carlos Lee hit a towering drive to left to get the Astros within 7-3 in the sixth.

NOTES: Bud Norris will start Sunday for the Astros instead of J.A. Happ, who was pushed back to Tuesday after straining his oblique in his last exhibition outing. ... Oswalt faces his former team Sunday. The Phillies sent Happ and two minor leaguers to Houston for Oswalt last July. ... Lee has 10 career double-digit strikeout games. He came in 0-2 with a 9.35 ERA against Houston.

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