By ROB MAADDI    AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Cliff Lee tossed a two-hitter for his third
consecutive shutout and the Philadelphia Phillies beat Josh Beckett
and the Boston Red Sox 5-0 Tuesday night.

In a series hailed as a potential World Series preview, Lee
(9-5) and the Phillies dominated the opener.
Domonic Brown and Shane Victorino each hit a two-run homer for
Philadelphia, which improved its major league-leading record to

Lee didn’t allow a hit until Marco Scutaro led off the sixth
with a line-drive single to left-center. The left-hander ran his
career-best scoreless streak to 32 innings with his ninth career
shutout and fourth this year.

Beckett (6-3) gave up five runs and five hits in six innings,
his worst outing of the season. Beckett entered with a major
league-best 1.86 ERA and left at 2.20. He hadn’t pitched because of
the flu since tossing a one-hitter against Tampa Bay on June 15.
Darnell McDonald led off the eighth with a double to left,
putting Lee’s shutout bid in jeopardy. But shortstop Jimmy Rollins
made an outstanding play on Jason Varitek’s hard one-hopper up the
middle for the first out. Lee then fanned Mike Cameron looking at a
slow curve and retired Scutaro on a grounder to third.

Lee finished with five strikeouts and two walks. He has been
sensational since a slow start. The lefty was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA
through May. Since then, he’s 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in five starts
this month.

Lee threw a two-hitter against Florida on June 16 and blanked
St. Louis on six hits June 22. He needed 112 pitches to get through
this one.

The most popular player on the Phillies, Lee received several
ovations from the 180th straight sellout, including postseason
play, at Citizens Bank Park.

Brown gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead when he connected with two
outs in the second. The lanky rookie ripped a 2-2 pitch into
Philadelphia’s bullpen in right-center.

Brown came in slumping. He was 4 for 34 in his previous 10 games
and got a scolding from manager Charlie Manuel after not hustling
out a grounder against Oakland on Saturday night. Brown was booed
by fans for not running hard that game, but heard loud cheers as he
circled the bases and again when he went out to right field.
Brown got things started in the fifth with a leadoff double to
left. He advanced to third on Carlos Ruiz’s deep fly to
right-center and scored on Lee’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. Lee,
a good-hitting pitcher, has five RBIs in his last eight games.

Victorino put the Phillies up 5-0 in the sixth. He drove a 3-1
pitch into the seats in right for his ninth homer.

NOTES: Lee’s previous best was a 27-inning scoreless streak
during his Cy Young Award season with Cleveland in 2008. … Lee
has four complete games this season, second in the NL to teammate
Roy Halladay’s five. … The last time the Red Sox had just two
hits was June 9, 2010, against Cleveland. Their previous low this
season was four hits, done five times. … Boston’s Dustin Pedroia
was 0 for 3, snapping an 11-game hitting streak. … The Phillies
placed Ryan Madson on the disabled list before the game, leaving
them without three closers. Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge are also
out. … The Red Sox activated relievers Bobby Jenks and Franklin
Morales from the DL before the game and optioned Scott Atchison and
Tommy Hottovy to the minors. … The Red Sox are 26-18 against the
Phillies, including 18-7 since 2004. … Beckett had allowed only
four homers this season. … The last time the Phillies reached 50
wins in fewer than 81 games was during their NL pennant-winning
season in 1993. They started 50-21 that year.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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