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Cliff Lee Takes The Hill As Phils Look For Second Straight Over Atlanta

(Sports Network) – The Braves and Phillies feature rosters that have a combined four starting pitchers headed to the All-Star Game, but Atlanta hurler Tommy Hanson is not one of them.

One of the more notable snubs, the righty will look to prove his doubters wrong again today with a career-best sixth straight winning start as Atlanta tries to even its three-game series with Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park.

Hanson is a solid 10-4 with a 2.52 earned run average in 16 starts this season and hasn’t lost since May 27. He has given up only six runs over his personal winning streak while going at least six innings in every outing. Hanson posted three straight road victories before besting the Rockies in Atlanta on Monday after holding them to a run on four hits over seven innings with six strikeouts.

Showing maturity beyond his 24 years of age, Hanson smiled as he said being a 10-game winner felt the “same as being a nine-game winner.”

“I was just happy with how I threw the ball. Our game plan worked out,” he said.

Hanson now heads back out onto the road, where he has won five straight starts since his last defeat at Milwaukee on April 7. He has given up just one run over eight career innings at Citizens Bank Park, but has only an 0-1 record to show for it.

Hanson has faced the Phillies six total times in his career, going 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA while striking out 27 over 29 1/3 innings. He faces them for the first time this season.

Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee will be going to Arizona as a member of the National League All-Star club thanks to an incredible June, but he hardly looked like one of the game’s elites on Sunday in Toronto.

Lee won all five of his starts a month ago, allowing one earned run in 42 innings for a 0.21 ERA and carrying a string of three straight shutouts into his last start. His career-best scoreless-innings streak eventually ended at 34 innings and the 32-year-old took the loss after giving up three homers in the eighth inning to squander a lead. Lee was charged with seven runs — six earned — over 7 1/3 innings overall.

“They were able to chip away a few runs throughout the game and they had a big eighth inning. I felt like I made decent pitches. Sometimes they hit good pitches too,” said Lee, who fell to 9-6 with a 2.92 ERA in 18 starts this season.

While Hanson has been outstanding on the road, Lee has been on quite a roll at home, where he hasn’t lost since May 6 and has captured six straight starts. However, that last defeat came to the Braves, who got to him for three runs over seven innings of a 5-0 decision despite striking out 16 times against the southpaw.

Lee’s efforts were better than when he faced the club in Atlanta on April 8 as he lasted just 3 1/3 innings while yielding six runs. His two losses to the Braves this year have dropped his career mark against them to 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA in five starts.

Lee will be looking to extend Philadelphia’s lead over Atlanta for first place in the NL East, which stands at 3 1/2 games after the Phillies took last night’s opener, 3-2, in 10 innings.

It was a long night for both clubs as the start of the game was delayed nearly two hours due to rain and finally ended when Raul Ibanez took a Scott Proctor offering deep into the right-field sets for the Phils’ seventh victory in 10 games.

“It’s definitely a good feeling. You don’t try to do that, try to do too much in that situation. But you do try to get a good pitch to hit and drive it,” Ibanez said about his approach at the plate. “When that happens, there’s no better feeling as a player.”

Carlos Ruiz added a solo homer, but it was the bullpen that stole the show following a solid outing from Roy Halladay. Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Juan Perez combined to hold the Braves off the basepaths over the final three innings, with Perez striking out the side in the 10th inning on just nine pitches.

Perez is the first Phils hurler to accomplish that feat since Andy Ashby in 1991 and netted his first major-league victory as a result.

“Their bullpen was really, really good,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “They gave them a chance to do what they did … bring the big boys up late in the game.”

Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla each recorded an RBI single for the Braves, whose four-game win streak came to a halt with just the club’s fourth setback in 18 games.

These two rivals have split 10 meetings so far this year, with the Phillies taking three of four in Philadelphia.