LOS ANGELES -- Dropping popups, throwing away comebackers and running out of rallies is no way to beat Cliff Lee, as the Dodgers proved on Monday night in a 7-0 loss to the Phillies.
Lee retired 20 consecutive batters at one point, improving on the lowest WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) against the Dodgers by any pitcher in history. He finished with 10 strikeouts and no walks over eight innings and has a 1.48 ERA in eight career starts against the Dodgers.
Jeff Manship worked around a walk in the ninth to finish off the first shutout of the Dodgers at home this season.
The Dodgers were hoping starting pitcher Paul Maholm would eat some innings to ease the load on the bullpen, but that didn't happen. Maholm needed 29 pitches in Philly's two-run first, and by the end of the fifth Maholm was finished with a count of 107. He allowed five runs (four earned), including a two-run double by Carlos Ruiz in the first and a two-run homer by Ryan Howard in the fifth.
"The bullpen needed a rest and, unfortunately, I didn't give it to them," said Maholm. "I was falling behind, and that's a recipe for disaster. I left too many balls up in the zone."
The Dodgers didn't help Maholm by continuing their generally sloppy defense, and they had only two hits cleanly leave the infield.
Hanley Ramirez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk. He is 1-for-15 since getting hit on the left hand by a Ryan Vogelsong pitch in San Francisco last week, and he never got that contract extension from management who probably wants to see if he can stay healthy. So, is he trying to play through an injury?
"I'm 100 percent," Ramirez said. "I just don't have the timing, I don't know why. I've got to get back on track. It's April. I've got to do better. I'll just wait till May gets here."
Manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez tells him he's fine.
"You're seeing him not have success, which is fairly rare with him," said Mattingly. "I don't think he's hurting. I'm always asking during the game, he says he's seeing the ball good. He's not getting treatment on it. You can lay it on that. I think it's a matter of time. Hanley will get rolling. I'm sure he's trying to press a little bit, but I think he's OK."
Maholm opened the game with a mistake, walking former Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. Then another catchable ball dropped when Jimmy Rollins hit a fly to shallow center. Center fielder Matt Kemp didn't pick up the ball in the dusk, Yasiel Puig came running all the way from right field and second baseman Justin Turner peeled off. Puig got his glove on the ball, but it dropped for a single.
After Chase Utley flied out to Kemp, Ruiz doubled into the right-field corner to score Gwynn, and Rollins came around from first when Puig's throw from the warning track missed the cutoff man.
"Paul is who he is," Mattingly said of the finesse lefty. "He changes speeds, gives you everything he has. We didn't help him. Certain matchups are difficult. He's got to hit edges, change speeds and locations. The guy battles. He's not afraid."
Maholm said he was frustrated because he warmed up well but the pitches weren't consistent in the game.
Puig led off the bottom of the first with a single, but ran the Dodgers out of the inning. With two outs and Puig on second base, Adrian Gonzalez sent a bouncer up the middle. Second baseman Utley, playing Gonzalez to pull, raced behind the bag to field the ball, juggled, then saw Puig rounding third base with no stop sign and threw home. Puig, caught in a rundown, was tagged out by Ruiz before he could return to third.
"He didn't look up," Mattingly said of Puig. "It wouldn't have mattered if he had been held. He kept going."
Howard doubled Philadelphia's lead with a two-out, two-run homer in the fifth inning after Maholm walked Ruiz. Maholm allowed singles to John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown, then fielded Freddy Galvis' comebacker that should have ended the inning, but he overthrew Gonzalez at first base, allowing Mayberry to score.
"The way Cliff was going," said Mattingly, "four runs felt like 10, honestly."
"He was in total control out there," said Philly manager Ryne Sandberg.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.