Their season is only eight games old, but twice already the Phillies have needed a big start from Cliff Lee and twice he has delivered. Last night he gave the overworked middle relievers a break as he went 8 2/3 innings in an 8-3 win over the Mets.

After two starts, Lee is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA and an 0.60 ratio. He has thrown 16 2/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking none. Righties are hitting .133 against him.

The offense delivered seven early runs, scoring four in the second before Howard, Young and Mayberry all hit solo home runs in the third. Mayberry started in right against a right-handed pitcher and had a big day, going 2-for-4 with three RBI. He’s 4-for-12 with three doubles, a home run and three walks against righties in the early going (333/467/833). Young tripled and homered, going 3-for-4 in the game and driving in a pair of runs.

The Phillies are 3-5 on the year after beating the New York Mets 8-3 last night. The teams have split the first two games of the three-game series.

Lee got the start for the Phillies and went 8 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Only two of the runs were earned. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double, a triple and a home run. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.

Daniel Murphy and John Buck both singled in the top of the first, but Lee got Marlon Byrd on a fly ball to center to leave two men stranded.

Lucas Duda singled to start the second, but Lee got Justin Turner to ground into a double-play behind him. Ruben Tejada flew to right for the third out.

Lee started the third up 4-0 and set the Mets down in order.

It was 7-0 when he started the fourth. David Wright led off and reached on a throwing error by Rollins, putting a man on for Buck. Buck hit the first pitch he saw from Lee out to right, cutting the lead to 7-2. Lee got the next three.

Second home run the opposite way for Buck in two games in the set. The error by Rollins ahead of the home run costs the Phils a run.

It was 8-2 when Jordany Valdespin tripled to center with one out in the fifth. Valdespin scored on a passed ball (8-3) before Lee struck out Collin Cowgill for the second out. Murphy doubled to right, but was left at second when Wright grounded to short.

Second miscue by the Phils on the passed ball by Kratz, although Valdespin would have scored from third on Murphy’s double anyway.

Lee set the Mets down in order in the sixth. Lefty Mike Baxter hit for the pitcher and struck out looking for the third out.

Lee needed seven pitches to set New York down in order in the seventh.

He struck out Murphy in a 1-2-3 eighth.

Byrd singled to right with one out in the ninth. Righty Anthony Recker hit for the pitcher Brandon Lyon and Lee struck him out looking for the second out. Turner was next and moved Byrd up to second with a single. Lee had thrown 106 pitches in the game and Manuel called on Adams to pitch to the righty Ruben Tejada. Tejada struck out looking 0-2 to end the game.

I thought it was a very good decision by Manuel to pull Lee when he did. The middle of the pen has been overused, but the guys at the back, Adams, Papelbon, Aumont and Bastardo, haven’t had a ton to do.

It was the third appearance of the year for Adams. He has struck out four in 2 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing one hit.

The Phillie lineup against righty Dillon Gee went (1) Revere (2) Rollins (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Young (6) Brown (7) Mayberry (8) Kratz. Kratz behind the plate after Quintero caught Halladay in game one of the set. Revere continues to lead off despite his slow start in combination with Rollins hitting well. Mayberry starts in right against the righty with Nix on the bench.

The Phillies went in order in the bottom of the first.

Young and Brown singled back-to-back with one out in the second. Brown’s ball was hit softly to left. The throw went to third and hit Young, allowing Brown to move up to second. Mayberry cleared the bases with a double down the third base line. 2-0. Kratz grounded to third for the second out before Lee singled into center, scoring Mayberry to put the Phils up 3-0. Revere moved Lee up to second with a single before Rollins doubled into the right field corner. Lee scored (4-0) and Revere moved up to third. Utley flew to left to leave the runners at second and third.

Very nice hustle on the bases by both Young and Brown on Brown’s single. Young took third on the single and Brown ran hard to take the extra-base when Duda’s throw hit Young.

Revere doesn’t score from first on the two-out double by Rollins.

Howard led off the third and hit a 1-1 pitch out to left-center. 5-0. Young was next and hit the first pitch he saw out the opposite way. 6-0. Brown flew to left for the first out before Mayberry lined a 1-0 pitch out to left. 7-0. Kratz singled, but Lee and Revere went down to leave him stranded.

Quite an inning as Howard, Young and Mayberry all put home run number one for the season on the board. All three go after Gee early in the count. Howard and Young hit the ball out the opposite way and Mayberry pulls his down the line.

Righty Glen Burke was on the mound for the Mets when the Phils hit in the fourth with their lead cut to 7-1. Utley walked with one out. Howard lined to Tejada for the second out before Utley stole second. It brought Young to the plate and he tripled to center, scoring Utley to make it 8-1. Brown grounded to short for the third out.

Young was again aggressive on the bases as he went for three. The Mets probably would have had him with a good relay to third. They didn’t get one.

It was 8-3 when Burke set the Phillies down in order in the fifth.

Utley walked off of lefty Scott Rice with two outs in the sixth, stole second and took third on a throwing error. Howard struck out swinging to leave him at third.

Righty Latroy Hawkins set Young, Brown and Mayberry down in order in the seventh.

Brown is 5-for-25 against righties on the season.

Righty Brandon Lyon set Kratz, Lee and Revere down in order in the eighth. Lee hit for himself having thrown 96 pitches in the game.

Revere was 1-for-5 in the game. He’s hitting .229 without an extra-base hit.

Rollins 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He made a throwing error in front of the Buck home run that cost the Phils a run. 8-for-25 with two walks and four extra-base hits against righties (320/370/560).

Utley 0-for-2 with two walks and two stolen bases.

Howard 1-for-4 with a strikeout and his first home run. 161/206/258 on the year in 34 plate appearances.

Young 3-for-4 with a triple and a home run. 7-for-his-last-13 with three extra-base hits.

Brown 1-for-4 with a bloop single and a strikeout. 2-for-his-last-15 with two singles and no walks.

Mayberry gets the start against the righty Gee and delivers two extra-base hits off of him, going 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBI in the game.

Kratz 1-for-4 with a strikeout and a passed ball. He’s on-basing .192 with eight strikeouts in 26 plate appearances.

Kendrick (0-1, 7.94) faces righty Jeremy Hefner (0-1, 1.50) tonight. Kendrick pitched better than his line against the Royals in his first start, throwing four scoreless innings to start the game before allowing a two-run single in the fifth. With two outs in the fifth and two men on he was asked to walk Billy Butler intentionally and was then pulled from the game. Horst took over and allowed a three-run triple to Alex Gordon with all three runs charged to Kendrick. Hefner allowed a run to the Marlins over six innings in his first outing of the year.