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LAD@PHI: Lee goes eight strong three-run innings

It may seem like a modest achievement, but reaching the .500 mark more than halfway through a 10-game road trip would qualify as an improvement for a Rockies club that has struggled mightily away from Coors Field.

The Rockies will try to move to 3-3 and secure a series split in Game 3 of a four-game set against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

But making it to .500 on this trip after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night surely won't come easy against Phillies ace Cliff Lee (10-6, 3.19 ERA).

Lee hasn't quite matched his typical dominance of late, allowing at least three runs in his last seven starts. In a 4-0 loss to the Dodgers on Friday, he gave up three runs -- two coming on a Hanley Ramirez homer -- and five hits in eight innings, striking out six.

The Phillies scored eight runs in the first two games of the series, a sharp turnaround for a club that failed to score a run in its first two games under interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

Sandberg's willingness to shake up his lineup has paid early dividends. Catcher Carlos Ruiz made just his fourth career start in the No. 2 spot on Tuesday. He didn't get a hit but did score off a walk the day after he homered and doubled from that unfamiliar spot.

"My lineups are day to day with the way the game goes, and adjust from there," said Sandberg, who is 2-3 since taking over for Charlie Manuel. "Ruiz, for instance, I like his ability to use the whole field. He has a good right-center stroke when he's right. So I think it's a spot right now that's conducive to, with his swing, to help himself with his stroke and to help the team."

Philadelphia will attempt to keep its offense rolling against Juan Nicasio (7-6, 4.94), one of the most unpredictable arms in Colorado's rotation. In seven starts since returning from a short stay with Triple-A Colorado Springs in early July, Nicasio has allowed two earned runs or fewer four times.

But in those three other starts, he's looked like an entirely different pitcher, going 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA. Nicasio was steady in a 6-3 victory over the Orioles to open the 10-game trip, allowing two runs in six innings.

"I concentrated on making a good pitch and keeping my fastball down in the zone," Nicasio said following his last start.

Rockies: Tulo returning to usual offensive form
For the second consecutive night on Tuesday, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki belted a homer into the left-field seats at Citizens Bank Park.

It extended his hitting streak to seven games, in which he's hitting .407 with five RBIs, three doubles and those two homers. The hot streak snapped an extensive offensive slump for Tulowitzki that dated to July 11, when he returned to the lineup less than a month after breaking a right rib and battling lingering pain from it.

Over that slump, Tulowitzki hit just .205, driving in 11 runs and launching four home runs in 27 games.

Phillies: Finally secure a save
For a team that's struggled so mightily in the second half, Monday's victory allowed Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon to earn his first save in more than five weeks.

Though the Phillies, 7-22 since the All-Star break, couldn't pick up a third straight win on Tuesday, their 5-4 win in the series opener gave them back-to-back wins for the first time since July 19. And that win granted Philadelphia its first save since July 11, ending a 30-game save-less stretch.

It was the longest such stretch since 1973, when the Phillies went a franchise record 32 games without a save.

Worth noting
• Lee's last start against the Rockies came on Sept. 7, 2012, when he picked up a no-decision after allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts. Lee is 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA in three career starts against Colorado.

• Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who turned 40 on Tuesday, is a career .351 hitter against the Phillies with 25 doubles, 17 homers and 63 RBIs in 90 career games.

• Left-handed batters are hitting just .228 off Nicasio this year. The right-hander has a slightly lower career average against lefties than righties. Comments