PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Florida Marlins have gone from contention to last place in a short span.
Cliff Lee tossed a two-hitter and had two hits and an RBI, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Marlins 3-0 Thursday to complete a four-game sweep and win their seventh in a row.
The struggling Marlins have lost 15 of 16. They were 29-19 and just one game behind Philadelphia after a 1-0 victory in San Francisco on May 26. They're 3-18 since and have fallen into last place in the NL East at 11 1/2 games out.
``It's mind-boggling,' said Logan Morrison, who had one of two hits off Lee. ``You can't do anything about it now. Just have to keep battling.'
Lee (7-5) didn't allow a hit until Mike Stanton grounded a single to center with two outs in the fifth. He struck out four and walked two to record his seventh career shutout and second this season.
Ryan Howard homered for the NL East-leading Phillies, who improved their major league-best record to 44-26.
Florida's Javier Vazquez (3-7) allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings in his best start in a while. He entered with the highest ERA in the majors among starters at 7.09.
``Vazquez kept us in the game,' Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ``He just made a bad pitch to Lee.'
The Marlins came to Philadelphia hoping a change of scenery would help them after a 1-10 homestand. But they ran into Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Lee. Kyle Kendrick pitched outstanding against them in the other game.
``That's a tough series facing those three guys,' Rodriguez said.
Lee gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI double. Michael Martinez hit a two-out single and scored when Lee drove a 1-2 pitch off the fence in right-center. Lee, who has an excellent swing for a pitcher, is batting .242 (8 for 33) with two doubles and four RBIs.
Howard lined an opposite-field shot out to left-center in the fifth. He finished the 11-game homestand with three homers and 11 RBIs.
Jimmy Rollins hit an RBI double in the sixth to increase the lead to 3-0. Rollins was just 7 for 37 during the homestand, but had three homers and 10 RBIs.
Lee has been outstanding in his last three starts, going 3-0 with an 0.38 ERA. The lefty is 5-1 since losing at St. Louis on May 16, and has lowered his ERA to 3.12.
Notes: The Marlins were outscored 25-6 in the series. ... Florida's worst stretch was a 3-19 skid late in the 1998 season. ... Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez didn't start the day game after playing last night. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
The Associated Press News Service
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