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This Is Last Place: Lee Throws 10 Shutout Innings, Phils Lose 1-0

Apr 19, 2012, 3:29 AM EDT

Cliff Lee threw TEN shutout innings on Wednesday night, but the Phillies still lost 1-0 in 11 innings, and now reside in last place in the NL East.

On one hand, Cliff Lee was magnificent on Wednesday night. Not only did he become the first pitcher to last 10 innings into a game since Aaron Harang in 2007, and the first Phillie to do so since Terry Mulholland in 1993; Lee was also the first pitcher to go 10 with a shutout since Mark Mulder in ’05, the first Phillie since Steve Carlton in ’81.

Lee allowed seven hits, walked none, and struck out seven on an efficient 102 pitches. Had he not been due up in the top of the 11th, he almost certainly could have gone another round or two at least.

On the other hand, Matt Cain was equally dominant for the San Francisco Giants. The newly-minted hundred millionaire held the Phillies to zero runs and two hits over a full nine. Really, the only difference between the two starters was Cain’s bullpen kept the opposing team off the scoreboard, and Lee’s did not — or to put that another way, the Giants found a way to generate a run, whereas the Phils could not.

However you choose to look at it, the end result is a 1-0 loss in 11 innings, putting Philadelphia in dead last in the NL East for the first time in almost five years.

Antonio Bastardo was handed the loss, though he lacked help defensively. With one out and a runner on first, Angel Pagan slapped a sharp ground ball toward third that was too hot to handle for Ty Wigginton, who bobbled the ball and had no play. Two pitches later, Melky Cabrera lined a single over the glove of Freddy Galvis to right, scoring Brandon Belt as Hunter Pence’s desperation throw arrived late.

Of course, Wigginton was still on the field due to the plate struggles of Placido Polanco, who has one extra base hit and one RBI to go along with his .220 on-base percentage. Wigginton was 1-for-4 on Wednesday.

You may have trouble pinning that problem on game management, but Charlie Manuel probably didn’t help his own cause either.

After Carlos Ruiz led off the top of the 11th with a double, and Galvis sacrificed him to third, Manuel went to his big lefty for the pinch hit. Giants manager Bruce Bochy matched Jim Thome with veteran lefthander Javier Lopez, who K’d the owner of 604 home runs with a bunch off-speed slop.

Manuel also stuck with John Mayberry after pinch hitting for Juan Pierre on the next at bat when Bochy matched with Clay Hensley, a right-on-right battle. Mayberry has a .212 average with one extra base hit, two RBIs, and nine strikeouts. He ended the threat with a groundout.

And this is a last place team.

After dropping two of three in San Francisco, the Phillies have lost three of four series this season, and for the first time since April 20, 2007, this team finds itself in the NL East basement all by their lonesome. A young, hungry club wound up overtaking the New York Mets for the division crown last time, just one example why it’s much too early to panic already.

But on the OTHER other hand, one theory is this franchise might be trending in the opposite direction. Big rebound series with the San Diego Padres begins for the Phillies on Thursday.