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PHI@MIA: Lee strikes out five, three-hits Marlins

The hot-swinging Red Sox offense has powered through some of the better arms in the American League this season, but tough left-handers continue to be a problem.

Hitting just .240 against southpaws, the Red Sox will get a challenge against one of the best lefties in the National League on Tuesday, as Cliff Lee takes the mound at Fenway Park for the second game of the Interleague set.

The Red Sox have scored at least six runs in four of their last five games.

"We just have that no-quit attitude," said Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 3-for-5 in Monday's 9-3 win and is 9-for-24 (.375) over his last six games.

While the Phillies haven't been hitting the way their teams of the recent past have -- they entered Monday ranked 24th in the Majors with 42 home runs -- their pitching has kept them in ballgames.

"If the pitching wasn't there from the start, we could really have a bad record right now," outfielder Delmon Young said after Lee's last start. "When you have good pitching, you always have a chance to be in ballgames and it doesn't require a high-octane offense when you have good pitching."

Lee is coming off his first shutout since 2011. He allowed just three hits all game, striking out five and walking two in a dominant performance that propelled the veteran to a 5-2 record with a 2.48 ERA this season as he's once again looking like an All-Star.

"The last three innings, I felt as good as I have in a long time," he said. "Hit the ball right where I wanted. The first six innings was kind of trying to mix speeds and locate somewhat, but I just felt more crisp after the sixth.

On the mound for the Red Sox will be Ryan Dempster, the 35-year-old right-hander who got off to a great start to the season but has gone 0-3 with a 7.78 ERA over his last four starts.

Manager John Farrell said Dempster has been dealing with a cramping sensation in his groin that may be affecting his performance.

"The fact is he's not only not worked downhill, it's taken away the shape and execution of his secondary pitches," Farrell said. "When he was right or when he was throwing well he'd be able to go to the slider or that cutter at any time in the count, or particularly on 3-2 for a number of strikeouts."

Red Sox: Pedroia still hot
Waiting for Dustin Pedroia to cool off this season has been like waiting for the mail on a national holiday.

The Red Sox's second baseman has played in all 52 games this year, on pace for a perfect 162. He hit his third home run of the season Monday and is batting .392 over his last 19 games.

Even with just three home runs, Pedroia, who is hitting .333 on the year, is pushing his name into the AL MVP discussion.

"What is he hitting, .340? Yeah," said lefty Jon Lester. "He's not a home run hitter. He may run into 12 to maybe 20. That's on a good year. And what he does is what he showed [last weekend], battling, fouling off pitches, being a little gnat up there. And he's great. He's one of the best I've ever seen in being able to put the barrel on the ball in different locations. And it's impressive to watch him."

Phillies: Howard playing through pain
Ryan Howard returned to the Phillies' lineup Monday and smacked a couple of hits, including a double off the Green Monster in left field. But when he woke up on Monday, his left knee was sore.

He's having good days and bad since getting a cortisone injection on May 19, and he said he's considering himself day to day.

Howard, hitting .259 with five homers and 25 RBIs, is in the second year of his five-year, $125 million contract extension. Surgery is a last-case scenario.

"His leg is going to always be bothering him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He has some arthritis. It comes and goes in his legs. He's going to always be bothered by that. On the days when it really hurts him bad, maybe those are the days where I have to communicate him. He has to tell me."

Worth noting

• The Phillies moved Michael Young from the No. 3 spot to the No. 2 spot in the batting order Monday to try to shake things up. Jimmy Rollins slid from leadoff to No. 3, while Ben Revere took over the top spot.

• Farrell said that David Ortiz will play first base in one of two games the Red Sox play in Philadelphia starting on Wednesday.

• Jonny Gomes, who typically plays against lefties, is just 2-for-29 against Lee. Ortiz is just 6-for-29. Both are homerless off the veteran. Comments