“He looks good,” Sandberg said. “He’s feeling good, he’s in great shape and he’s producing quality at-bats right now. He’s very healthy and he looks good.”
Lee (2-0) allowed 10 hits and had just one 1-2-3 inning. But it never felt as if he was in trouble. He worked on the edges of both sides of the plate and kept the Cubs hitters off balance. Four of his six strikeouts were called third strikes.
“I still had to battle a little bit,” said Lee, who won his first start of the season despite allowing eight runs in five innings. “They got their fair share of hits, but I was able to make pitches when I needed to.
“Seven innings, no runs, I’ll take that every time.”
The Cubs wasted another strong start from Jeff Samardzija (0-1), who allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out eight. In his two starts, the right-hander has a 1.29 ERA with nothing to show for it, but said he’s confident the offense will come around.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I see these guys working every day; I know what they’re doing. If it were a different situation, if I thought these guys were being lazy or this or that, obviously it’d be different. But these guys come to work every day, doing everything we can.
“It’s early in the season, we’re going to keep going, keep pushing and figure this out.”
Utley ensured that Lee would take the mound with a lead when he cranked a 1-1 fastball from Samardzija into the right-field bleachers for a two-out solo home run in the top of the first inning. It was Utley’s second homer of the season.
Utley then led off the fourth with a walk, took second on a single by Ryan Howard and scored on a single by Brown to make it 2-0. Utley, who has been bothered by knee problems in recent years, showed how healthy he’s feeling on the play. Brown’s hit was a liner to left-center. Utley got a quick read on the ball and raced around third to score without a play.
With Lee painting the corners, the two-run advantage seemed huge. The Cubs‘ managed two hits in each the first, third and seventh innings, but couldn’t produce a big hit break through - just like things have gone so far this season.
NOTES: The Cubs confirmed that RHP Carlos Villanueva will make his scheduled start in Sunday’s series finale. Villanueva’s status was in question because he used in relief twice during the opening series in Pittsburgh. He was losing pitcher in both, meaning he’ll take the mound for his first start with a 0-2 record and a 13.50 ERA. A.J. Burnett (0-0, 1.50) will start for the Phillies. The veteran RHP allowed one run in six innings in his first start of the season. . Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games when he returned to Philadelphia for the birth of his second child, a daughter named Logan Aliya. . Utley’s double in the eighth inning was the 300th of his career, which is eighth on the Phillies all-time list.