PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Young is effusive in his praise for Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.
Young appreciates everything about the guy.
"I love playing behind Cliff," said Young following Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. "I've had a chance to do it a lot now, in a lot of big games, too. He loves having the ball in his hand. He loves to compete. Obviously, he has a great tempo. He throws a ton of strikes and keeps the defense involved. It's a huge plus for us any time he's on the mound. He can hit, too."
Of course, one has to wonder if Lee and Young will be playing together in a couple of months. The Phillies might have moved into a second-place tie with the Nationals in the National League East, but they are just 35-37. The losing record and its proximity to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is on everybody's mind. In fact, five days ago, Lee declined to say he wanted to remain in Philadelphia if the Phillies continued their losing ways.
Lee repeated a few times Tuesday that he spoke honestly that night in Minnesota, and he said he would continue to speak honestly in the future.
"If that rubs people the wrong way, then I don't really care," he said.
But Lee also added he preferred to stay in Philadelphia.
"I was telling the truth about how I felt," he said. "I'll continue to do that. I try to be honest and say how I feel. I don't really care about how it's interpreted, to be honest with you. I want to win. I signed here to win. I think that was misconstrued into thinking I want to play somewhere else, and that's not the case. I want to win, and I want to win here. That's it."
The Phillies have won the first two games of this three-game series against a team nearly everybody expected to run away with the NL East crown. The Nationals have problems of their own, but one has to wonder why the Phillies can't play games like this more often.
"I don't if I look at it like, 'Why we haven't done that?' but it proves that we can," Lee said. "I think we're a good team that can beat anyone."
Lee allowed five hits and two runs and struck out nine in eight innings to improve to 9-2 with a 2.53 ERA. He allowed a solo home run to Jayson Werth in the fourth inning to hand the Nationals a 1-0 lead, but the Phillies came right back. Young hit a double to center field to get things started in the bottom of the fourth. Jimmy Rollins' sacrifice bunt advanced Young to third, and Young scored on Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly to right to tie the game.
Young is heating up. He went 3-for-4 with a career-high three doubles Tuesday. He is hitting .408 (20-for-49) with five doubles, one triple, four RBIs and a .971 OPS in his past 12 games.
Ben Revere started a three-run rally in the sixth inning with a bunt single and was moving on a 3-2 pitch to Young, who ripped the ball into the right-field corner for a double. Revere scored easily to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Rollins singled to put runners at the corners, and Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler hit Howard with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Kevin Frandsen's two-out single to left field scored Young and Rollins to make it 4-1.
Frandsen is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with two doubles and two RBIs in his last nine games, providing the offense some punch while Chase Utley is on the disabled list and Freddy Galvis is hitting .145 in his last 22 games.
"You come out there with two outs and the bases loaded, all you're hoping for is a good count to get in, and I got 2-0," Frandsen said. "I feel like he had to come at me, a one-run game he doesn't want to walk another guy in or anything like that. I got a good pitch to hit."
Lee handled the rest, as he has been since he signed a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010. Asked how confident he is the Phillies can win today compared to the day he signed his contract, he said, "I don't know. I mean, I'm confident that we can win. I like our team. If all the guys are healthy on the field, I think we can beat anyone. I'm confident the organization is going to do everything it can to field the best team. Those are all reasons why I came here. And that's what I expect. And I think that's what everyone here should expect."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.