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Cliff Lee Faces His Former Team As Phillies Host Rangers Tonight

(Sports Network) – The Texas Rangers are finally playing in another game that Cliff Lee is starting. The only problem is that he is wearing a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.

Lee faces the Rangers for the first time since helping the club reach the World Series last year in the continuation of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

Lee has been a man of many hats over the past few seasons. The former American League Cy Young Award winner was dealt by the Indians to the Phillies prior to the 2009 trade deadline and helped Philadelphia make it back to the World Series, where it lost to the Yankees.

The Phils then acquired Roy Halladay the following offseason, so they shipped Lee to Seattle to restock their farm system. The Mariners failed to compete, though, and dealt the Arkansas product to the Rangers before last season’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Lee went 4-6 with a 3.98 earned run average in 15 starts with the Rangers, who won the American League West for the first time since 1999, and with Lee’s help captured their first AL Pennant in team history before losing to the Giants in the World Series. The 31-year-old Lee went 3-2 in his five postseason starts with a 2.78 ERA, but lost both of his games in the World Series.

It was believed the pending free agent would either re-sign with the Rangers or join the Yankees, but the Phillies swooped in and signed him to a five- year, $125 million contract. Will that give Texas a little extra incentive to beat the southpaw tonight?

“You want to try to beat everyone, especially a guy that didn’t come back to your team,” Lee told the Phillies’ website. “I’m sure there’s some incentive for them to beat me. There should be. That’s the way it is. They try to win every game, and I’ve got to keep them from scoring.”

The left-hander takes the hill tonight looking for his first victory since April 14. He is 0-3 with a 3.66 ERA in six starts since and walked a career- high six batters in a loss to the Cardinals on Monday. He also gave up three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings and was not a fan of home-plate umpire Gerry Davis’ strike zone.

“I felt like I threw a lot of strikes that were called balls, but whatever, it is what it is,” Lee said. “I’m the pitcher and he’s the umpire, and it’s his job to call balls and strikes, and he felt like they were balls, I guess.”

Lee, who had walked just seven batters in his first eight starts, is 2-4 with a 3.84 ERA this season and 6-3 with a 5.55 ERA in 10 career starts versus the Rangers.

Lee may need to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard tonight as the Phillies haven’t scored more than three runs in seven straight games. However, they did pick up their second victory in that span with last night’s 3-2 win behind homers from Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez, as well as eight innings of two-run ball by Halladay.

Still, the Phillies got just enough to beat Rangers starter C.J. Wilson, who struck out 10 over seven innings but gave up both home run balls.

“[Wilson] made two pitches I know he’d like to take back,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Elvis Andrus scored a run when he stole home on a double steal in the first inning, but the Rangers still lost for the third time in four games and sit a half-game in front of the Angels for first place in the AL West.

The Rangers would love a repeat performance tonight from Colby Lewis, who hurled the first shutout of his career last time out. Lewis held the White Sox to just five hits and a walk, striking out seven in the 4-0 win, his second in a row and third in four starts. He has a 1.67 ERA in that span.

“The White Sox have a lot of talent up and down that lineup, so for Colby to come out in their ballpark and have that kind of effort was big for us,” said Rangers designated hitter Michael Young. “His last three or four starts have been fun to watch.”

The right-hander’s hot streak has evened his season record to 4-4 and lowered his ERA to a season-best 3.81.

The 31-year-old Lewis went 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four interleague starts last year and faces the Phillies for the first time.

Texas took two of three from the Phillies in the last meeting between the teams in 2008, three years after the Phils swept a three-game home set over the Rangers.

The Rangers went 14-4 versus the NL a season ago, while the Phillies were 10-8 in interleague play.