Lee fires shutout for his 20th win

He's first Indian to do it since '74

Cliff Lee threw his second career shutout to become the Indians' first 20-game winner since Gaylord Perry accomplished the feat in 1974. Cliff Lee threw his second career shutout to become the Indians' first 20-game winner since Gaylord Perry accomplished the feat in 1974. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press)
Associated Press / September 2, 2008
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Exactly one year after being brought back from the minor leagues, Cliff Lee had something major to celebrate: He's Cleveland's first 20-game winner in 34 years.

"Has a nice ring to it," Lee said. "I like the sound of that."

Lee, who was sent back to Triple A last season to work on his mechanics and his mental approach, pitched a five-hitter for his second career shutout and led the Indians to a 5-0 win over the Chicago White Sox last night in Cleveland.

Lee (20-2) is the first Indian to reach 20 wins since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry went 21-13 in 1974. The lefthander's milestone win was his ninth straight victory.

"I never lost confidence," Lee said. "I never got down on myself or questioned my abilities. I never once doubted what I could do."

With a chance to also join Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Bob Lemon as Cleveland's 20-game winners, Lee shut down the hard-hitting, Central-leading White Sox. He gave up two singles to open the first before retiring 21 straight and finishing his fourth complete game.

"That's the best I've seen him throw against us in some time," said Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen, whose club dropped into a tie for first in the Central with Minnesota. "He's a 20-game winner for a reason."

After he got Carlos Quentin to ground into a game-ending double play, Lee punched his fist into his glove and hugged catcher Kelly Shoppach.

He went 5-0 in April and was 12-2 when he took the mound as the AL's starter at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium. He went 5-0 with a 1.86 ERA in August. He leads the majors in wins and ERA.

The Indians' three-decades-plus drought without a 20-game winner was the longest among non-expansion teams. Tampa Bay, Colorado, and Florida have never had a pitcher get to 20 wins, and it's been 30 years since the Montreal/Washington franchise and San Diego had a 20-game winner.

Dodgers 5, Padres 2 - Greg Maddux tied Roger Clemens for eighth place on the career list with his 354th victory, leading host Los Angeles over San Diego.

Maddux has 109 complete games, 35 shutouts, 3,361 strikeouts, and a 3.15 career ERA over 23 seasons. Clemens had an almost identical a 3.12 lifetime ERA with 118 complete games, 46 shutouts, and 4,672 strikeouts, which is third on the all-time list.

Maddux (7-11) allowed two runs and six hits, struck out four, and walked none. It was the four-time Cy Young winner's third start with the Dodgers since the Padres traded him back to Los Angeles Aug. 19.

Mets 4, Brewers 2 - Carlos Delgado's two-run home run off Eric Gagné in the eighth inning propelled visiting New York past Milwaukee.

Milwaukee starter Ben Sheets pitched five scoreless innings before leaving with "very, very slight" tightness in his left groin. Manager Ned Yost removed him as a precautionary measure.

Yankees 13, Tigers 9 - Alex Rodriguez sparked a scoring barrage with a two-run single in the first inning and added an RBI in each of the next two frames to help visiting New York build a huge cushion it needed in a win over Detroit.

Astros 3, Cubs 0 - Roy Oswalt (13-9) allowed four hits and came within two outs of a shutout and Houston ran its winning streak to six games and dealt Chicago its third straight loss, the Cubs' first three-game skid at Wrigley Field this season.

Nationals 7, Phillies 4 - Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run home run and host Washington beat Philadelphia for its seventh straight win, the franchise's best streak since a 10-game stretch in 2005.

Marlins 4, Braves 3 - Jorge Cantu homered and John Baker hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run in the ninth, helping host Florida beat Atlanta.

Rockies 4, Giants 0 - Jorge De La Rosa pitched seven shutout innings and had an RBI single, Willy Taveras stole three bases and scored twice, and host Colorado beat San Francisco.

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