LOS ANGELES -- Cliff Lee touched home plate, looked toward the visitor's bullpen 360 feet away, brushed his right hand with his left hand like a bank teller counting cash and smiled.It was not a home run celebration. It was a message to Kyle Kendrick, who was sitting in the bullpen, to pay up. Lee and Kendrick are in a home run competition and Lee just blasted his second homer of the season in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Lee said he thought about Kendrick "pretty much instantly" as the ball sailed over the right-field wall. "It's just a friendly wager," Lee said. "It's a little side deal." So what are the stakes? "I think we're going to keep that between us," he said. "We can call it dinner or whatever you want to call it." The Phillies are having fun these days, and it's easy to see why. Lee homered and pitched eight scoreless innings to improve to 12-7. He allowed just four hits and two walks and struck out 10. Just four balls left the infield. The Phillies are 8-1 on their 10-game road trip through Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. If they win the series finale against the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon, it would be their best 10-game road trip and their third-best road trip of any length in franchise history. The Phillies have had 8-2 road trips before with their last one May 15-24, 2009, against the Nationals, Reds and Yankees. They went 7-0 against the Pirates and Mets July 11-15, 1968, and 6-0 against the Boston Braves and New York Giants April 14-21, 1915, which are the best trips in franchise history based on winning percentage. The Phillies also are 36 games over .500 for the first time since 1977, when they finished the season 101-61. Lee led the way Tuesday. The Dodgers had runners on second and third with nobody out in the first inning, but Lee struck out Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp on changeups and got Aaron Miles to pop out in foul territory to end the inning. "It was a big pitch for me tonight," Lee said of his changeup. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Wilson Valdez singled and scored on Jimmy Rollins' bloop double down the right-field line. They took a 2-0 lead when Lee hit a 2-0 pitch from Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly into the right-field bleachers. Lee is the first Phillies pitcher to hit two homers in a season since Randy Wolf hit three in 2004. Interestingly, on the bus ride to the ballpark, Phillies broadcaster Gary Matthews told Lee about the players that had homered out of Dodger Stadium. Lee joked he would do it Tuesday. "I never expected that to happen, but I found myself in a 2-0 count and got a good pitch to hit," he said. "Anytime it's a one-run game and you can extend that lead, that's huge. That was a big run for us right there. It turned out to be the winning run, so it was nice." Lee went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in five starts in June before going 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in five starts in July. August has looked a lot like June so far. He threw a shutout Thursday against the Giants at AT&T Park before Tuesday's gem. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tried to explain Lee's streakiness. "Joe DiMaggio was streaky for 56 games," Manuel said. "[Braves second baseman Dan] Uggla is streaky as hell. That's the way it goes sometimes. The baseball gods, they'll leave you, too." They were with him Tuesday and everybody seemed to enjoy it. "[Lee is] a guy who loves to hit," Carlos Ruiz said. "He likes to compete. He goes up to home plate and he always wants to swing. He gets mad sometimes because he has to bunt, but that's part of the game. I like to watch him. He shows he can hit. It's fun." Shortly after Lee's homer Roy Oswalt called the bullpen to send a message to Kendrick, although Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer had to hang up on him because he was trying to get Ryan Madson loose. Kendrick played off his mounting deficit. He trails, 2-0. "I don't know what you're talking about," Kendrick said. "He owes me."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.