PHILADELPHIA -- Rangers manager Ron Washington didn't see anything special out of Phillies starter Cliff Lee on Saturday night.
That's by no means an insult; instead it's a compliment of the highest order. Understand that Washington managed Lee last season when the left-handed starter arrived in a trade from Seattle and promptly led the Rangers into the World Series. See, Washington didn't think Lee was special because that would imply Lee did something out of the ordinary, and for the lefty, his latest masterpiece in a 2-0 win over the Rangers was nothing new to the veteran manager.
"I don't know if he was special," Washington said. "We made him work. We just couldn't get anything out of it. Just like Roy [Halladay] yesterday, they do a good job keeping people from getting to third base. We couldn't get anybody on base and get something going. When we did, he threw good pitches. That's what the good ones do. It's not special when that's what he normally does."
It's a script that has become all too familiar for the Rangers over the last month. Starter Colby Lewis pitched well, but just not as well as his counterpart Lee at Citizens Bank Park. Lee (3-4), the ace of the Rangers' staff after his arrival last year before he left for the Phillies this offseason, struck out 10 -- the 14th time he has reached double digits in strikeouts.
"You know Cliff is going to battle all the way; that's what he does," said Lewis, who went 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball while striking out six. "He always commands his fastball, that's what he does. You know he is going to go deep in the game. You just try to match him pitch for pitch. It's always a lot of fun.
"The most frustrating part of the night was the two walks and giving up that hit."
Down 1-0 in the sixth, Lewis struck out Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard -- who earlier hit a four-seam fastball into the right-field stands for his 10th home run of the year -- but walked Raul Ibanez. After another walk, to Carlos Ruiz, Lewis surrendered a single through the left side by John Mayberry Jr., and Ibanez scored for a 2-0 lead.
With Lee in total control, two runs were more than enough on this night against his old team.
"Those guys know I throw a lot of fastballs, so I threw a little less than I normally would," Lee said. "Just throwing strikes was the key. I don't feel good about walking two guys, but it is what it is. We still got through nine innings without them scoring, so I feel good about that. But I never feel good about walking guys.
"It's a little different when you're pitching to guys you had just played with. It was a little different, but not something off the charts different. It was still an opposing team I know is a very good offense. I know if I make too many mistakes they can make me pay, so I tried to focus on locating pitches."
The Rangers (23-23), now eight games below .500 since Josh Hamilton injured his shoulder on April 11, continued to struggle offensively, and they have now lost five of their last 10 series, falling into a first-place tie with the Angels in the American League West. The Rangers managed to get just two runners into scoring position against Lee -- Michael Young in the second and Ian Kinsler, who broke an 0-for-18 stretch with a single, in the sixth inning.
"We'd like to put some runs on the board," Washington said. "We faced two of the best the game has to offer. Our starting pitching has been good. Just that past few days we've faced better. You can't be frustrated by that. You're in the ballgame. When your in ballgames, it just takes a hit here a hit there or a pitch here or a pitch there. You get frustrated if you get blown out, and we're not getting blown out.
"Everybody goes through injuries. Of course we miss Hamilton and we miss [Nelson] Cruz. We miss Darren O'Day. We miss Tommy Hunter. Once again, I asked if we could stop the schedule. You have to play baseball. We ran into two pretty good pitchers, and I think they ran into two pretty good pitchers."
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.