PHILADELPHIA -- Josh Beckett can relate to the gem Cliff Lee fired against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. In Beckett's last start, he had been every bit as dominant, firing a one-hit shutout against the Rays.
But this time, Beckett didn't have nearly that same repertoire of pitches, and therefore, was no match for Lee on a night the Red Sox suffered a 5-0 loss to the Phillies.
"Oh man, he was great," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "He pitched his butt off. That's why he's one of the best in the business. He attacks the zone. He's one of the best."
Lee reeled off a two-hit shutout, walking two and striking out five.
The only silver lining for the Red Sox? Lee could have signed with the Yankees last December, or even re-upped with the defending American League champion Rangers, but he instead chose to move back to the National League and make a return engagement with the Phillies.
"He's throwing the ball great," Pedroia said. "I'm glad he's here. We only have to face him once instead of however many times. That's a good thing."
However, not a lot of good things have happened on this road trip thus far for the Red Sox, who are off to a 1-3 start with five games left. They are without the designated hitter for the entirety of the trip, but even David Ortiz -- who might get the start at first base on Wednesday -- probably wouldn't have made a difference in this one.
"He was in command of the game from start to finish," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's one of the best pitchers in the game, and he's riding a hot streak. That's a bad combination. He had his way with us. He did a great job."
Beckett, who has been Boston's best starter this season, hadn't pitched since that one-hit masterpiece on June 15 because of a severe stomach flu, and the rust showed in this one.
In typical Beckett fashion, he didn't cite the layoff as a reason for his sub-par performance.
"No, I don't think so," said Beckett, who is 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA. "I pitched [poorly]. You can't give that guy two runs in the first or second inning. It just lets him go to his whole deal."
With the loss, the Red Sox fell 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East.
Beckett went six innings, allowing five hits and five runs. He walked one and struck out a season-low one, throwing 84 pitches.
"I thought, as expected, he didn't feel strong throughout the game," Francona said. "It was hot and he was coming off being real sick. I thought the two pitches, the one pitch he tried to go in on [Domonic] Brown and the other pitch he tried to go away, and it cost him four runs. Other than that, I actually thought he pitched pretty well."
Meanwhile, Lee was masterful.
"We've kind of faced him a lot, but he's pretty darn good," Pedroia said. "He competes. He can throw any of his pitches on any side of the plate, and he swung the bat pretty good, too. So he was pretty good all night."
The Phillies jumped out first in the bottom of the second on one big swing from Brown, who belted a two-out, two-run homer to center.
"I felt all right," Beckett said. "I left some pitches up. You can't give him that cushion that early. You've got to battle a little better than that."
With Ortiz again out of the lineup in a National League city and Carl Crawford still on the 15-day disabled list, that deficit loomed larger than normal -- particularly against Lee.
The lefty handcuffed the Red Sox all night and didn't give up a hit until the sixth, when Marco Scutaro led off with a single. Darnell McDonald managed Boston's only other hit, roping a leadoff double in the eighth.
Meanwhile, the Phillies added on against Beckett. Lee helped his own cause by striking one to deep left in the fifth. While McDonald did track it down just in front of the wall, it was still good for an RBI sacrifice fly.
Shane Victorino pummeled a two-run shot to right in the bottom of the sixth, and the Red Sox were staring at a 5-0 deficit.
There was never even a hint of a comeback, not the way Lee pitched.
"I stayed out of the heart of the zone," said Lee. "That's an unbelievable offense over there, even with Crawford out of there and Ortiz out of the lineup. There are still threats from start to finish. They have a good team. That's why they've been playing well. I wasn't expecting us to get five runs off of Beckett. He's been pitching good. I was anticipating it being a closer game from start to finish."
The next possible time the Red Sox could face Lee would be the World Series. Both sides would love that opportunity.
But all the Red Sox are focused on now is trying to win Wednesday.
"We'll be all right," Pedroia said. "He was on his game and he's been on his game for awhile. He's pitched great recently. We'll come out tomorrow and try to play better tomorrow."