Archive for Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lieber stymies Royals

K.C. manages just three hits; Phils even series

June 10, 2007


— Keeping a hectic pace because of the birth of his son didn't keep Philadelphia's Jon Lieber from pitching the best game the Kansas City Royals have seen all year.

In fact, it seems to work every time for the Phillies' veteran right-hander.

He went home in 2000 when his son, Jared, was born, and hurried back just in time to throw a complete-game shutout against San Francisco for the Cubs. On Saturday night, after spending three days in Alabama following Jonah Lieber's birth, he struck out 11 and shut out Kansas City on three hits in Philadelphia's 4-0 victory.

So might the Phillies start letting their veteran right-hander spend time at home between starts, as the Yankees plan to do in a unique and controversial agreement that's brought Roger Clemens out of retirement?

"If he pitches like that, I might consider it," Phillies manager Charley Manuel said with a grin. "I told him that, really."

Lieber (3-4), who didn't walk a single batter while throwing his 25th complete game, said emphatically that going home between starts is something he would do only for the birth of a child.

"It's hectic. I went through it with my second child, Jared," he said. "I appreciate the Phillies letting me go back and spend as much time as I did. But it can be hectic during the season. I'm a little bit lucky being a starting pitcher. It would be different if I was a position player."

Jonah, the fourth child of Jon and Jessica Lieber, was born in Mobile, Ala., on June 1. His pop flew home for a few days and got back for a start on June 4 against San Francisco, where he zipped through the first four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth and took the loss.

Then he was back in Mobile for three days before rejoining the Phillies to face the Royals. After giving up a leadoff single to David DeJesus, he struck out the next six batters in a performance that Royals manager Buddy Bell called "as good as we've seen all year."

"We have to give Lieber all the credit," Bell said.

Lieber struck out the side on 14 pitches in the second inning and, until the ninth, went to a three-ball count on only two hitters.

Gil Meche, the Royals' tough-luck right-hander, struck out a season-best eight batters but took his fifth straight loss and dropped to 3-6 despite an ERA of 3.16, among the best in the league.

"The guys did great behind me," said Lieber, who was one short of his career-best strikeout total. "Rod (Barajas) called a great game. For the most part, location was a big factor. I felt like my breaking ball was much better than the last time out. But if you look at the last couple of games, the numbers probably look like I pitched (terribly). But I felt the way I did those games. It's just a couple of balls fall in here and there. I didn't feel any different."

It was Lieber's fifth career shutout and first since last Aug. 16 against the New York Mets.

Shane Costa bunted for a single with two outs in the fourth for the second hit against Lieber. John Buck doubled leading off the fifth, but went no farther as Lieber retired the next 15 batters for his first complete game since last Aug. 16 against the New York Mets.

"Lieber nips at the corners," Buck said. "And the corners were big today. He didn't throw many on the middle of the plate. He was changing speeds, getting ahead of hitters."

Meche retired the last 11 batters he faced after Barajas' RBI double made it 4-0 in the fourth. He gave up four runs on eight hits and walked only one. He was relieved starting the eighth by Joel Peralta.

Aaron Rowand singled and scored on Greg Dobbs' single in the second.

Rowand singled leading off the fourth and Pat Burrell, Dobbs and Barajas all doubled, giving the Phillies their seventh victory in their last eight road games.

Shealy struck out three times while Meche struck out both Abraham Nunez and Ryan Howard three times.

Finishing a night game while daylight still shone felt "pretty weird," Dobbs said.

"I enjoyed it, though. I love playing behind pitchers like that. We all do. He's going to get the ball and get on the mound and go after them. When he's dealing like he did, we're back in the dugout and we're hitting again, and that's fun."

Notes: RHP Freddy Garcia went on the 15-day DL Saturday and the Phillies signed veteran RHP Jose Mesa to a major league contract. Garcia, who turns 31 on Sunday, is 1-5 with an ERA of 5.90. A replacement for his spot in the rotation will be announced Monday. ... The Royals took 17 high school players and 33 college players in the draft this week, including 25 pitchers, six catchers, 12 infielders and seven outfielders. ... The Phillies have won seven of their last eight on the road.


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