PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Cliff Lee proved dominant again as he steamrolled through the Atlanta Braves' lineup to give Philadelphia a 9-0 shutout victory and win his seventh consecutive start on Monday.
The left-hander did not walk a batter and struck out six to continue his masterful stretch for the Major League-leading Phillies (89-48). who are closing in on a fifth straight division title.
"We can definitely sense it's getting close, but it's not over 'til it's over," Lee told reporters. "It's not time to exhale or sit back and say we got it."
Lee, who became the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1998 to record a sixth shutout in one season, is on an incredible tear.
He has not allowed a run over his last three starts, a span of 29 2/3 innings, and improved to 16-7 on the season.
His offense was led by Hunter Pence, who had two hits and three RBIs while Ryan Howard hit his 31st homer of the season in the seventh inning for Philadelphia.
Atlanta starter Derek Lowe (9-13) surrendered seven runs as the second-placed Braves (82-58) fell 8 1/2-games behind the Phillies in the National League East, though they still have a commanding lead in the NL Wild Card race.
Atlanta managed just five hits against Lee to suffer their third loss in four games.
"We've still got two more games left in this series," Braves outfielder Michael Bourn said. "They had their man going tonight, and he was on.
"We just need to put this one behind us."
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)