DENVER -- A big, left-handed pitcher dominated from the mound Friday night, but it probably wasn't the one Phillies fans were expecting.Instead of ace Cliff Lee seizing control of Colorado, it was rookie Christian Friedrich who had the Phillies in fits, striking out seven as the Rockies opened up the weekend series with a 6-2 win Friday night at Coors Field. "He mixed it up nicely, got his curveball over," said Ryan Howard, who struck out twice against Friedrich. "He threw enough pitches for strikes and did a pretty good job." Perhaps Lee has himself to blame. After all, he tutored Friedrich for 10 days' worth of workouts this offseason in Arkansas at the advice of their agents. At the time, Friedrich was a 2008 first-round Draft pick who had yet to advance past Double-A. Lee gave him a few mechanical tips and taught Friedrich how to improve his velocity by effectively throwing on a downward trajectory. "I learned so much from observing him, his workouts and work ethic, the way he throws the ball," Friedrich said. "I really learned the most from watching him work." Friedrich (5-6) has clearly improved from those sessions, much to the chagrin of the Phillies hitters, who managed five hits in six innings off the southpaw, scoring just one run. "To go head-to-head [with Lee] is something I didn't think was going to happen last offseason at any point in time," Friedrich said. "It was kind of cool the way it worked out." Lee, who exchanges text messages with Friedrich from time to time, is impressed with his pupil. "A rookie, in this ballpark, he's doing well," Lee said. "Going six innings and giving up one run, that's pretty good." After the Rockies scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley erred on a sharp grounder -- Jimmy Rollins doubled in John Mayberry, who had led off with a single. With Carlos Ruiz on second with one out in the fourth, Hunter Pence whiffed at a Friedrich fastball and Placido Polanco grounded out. Mayberry again led off the fifth with an infield single but was caught in an uncommon 2-4 pickoff at first base as Lee attempted to bunt. A snake-bitten season continued for Lee (1-6), who notched his 10th quality start this year but was undone by a sloppy sixth inning, when he gave up a double, single, sacrifice fly and single in succession as two Rockies scored. What hurt worse was that the effort was spearheaded by Jordan Pacheco and Josh Rutledge, the Rockies' Nos. 7 and 8 hitters. "They had a great day, they were a big part of them winning," Lee said. "Both of those guys swung the bat well. Normally you don't expect that out of the bottom of the lineup." In a year of frustrations for the Phillies -- their fifth straight loss puts them 15 games behind dirst-place Washington in the NL East -- manager Charlie Manuel can't quite fathom how they are 4-11 with Lee on the mound. "I do shake my head, I can't believe we can't win with Cliff pitching," Manuel said. Added Lee: "I'm not going to make excuses, I'm just going to go out there and continue to try to give this team a chance every time."
Trey Scott is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.