Philadelphia (38-31) at Oakland (28-39)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 49° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sun Jun 19, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Coming off the best start of his young career, rookie Joe Blanton hopes to lead the Oakland Athletics to a series-win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

In Tuesday’s 5-0 win over the New York Mets, the 24-year-old right-hander carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, retiring the first 14 batters. He went on to pitch seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits.

This is the same pitcher who less than a month ago was knocked out of a game at Tampa Bay after one-third of an inning, giving up seven earned runs and six hits.

“I wouldn’t say my confidence was shaken, but I started nibbling a little too much instead of going after hitters,” said Blanton, who has 16 career starts. “It’s one of those games you have to forget about quick. … I’m starting to get a little more comfortable.”

After dropping the opener on Friday, the Athletics won the middle game of the series 2-1 on Saturday.

Backed by a pair of outstanding plays from Mark Kotsay in center field, Kirk Saarloos threw a season-high 6 1-3 innings, scattering nine hits and four walks to win his second consecutive decision. While Scott Hatteberg and Dan Johnson each drove in a run for the A’s.

Kotsay started a relay that cut down one runner at the plate, then made a great catch and doubled off another runner at first.

“I don’t have the same coverage speed as some guys, so it’s instinct and learning how to read the ball off the bat,” he said.

“You have to be around him the entire season to appreciate everything he does,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “A normal center fielder doesn’t get there as quick. That’s why he’s led the planet in assists all these years.”

The Phillies, meanwhile, lost for just the third time in 11 games.

Jimmy Rollins, playing in his native Oakland this weekend for the first time as a pro, opened the game with a homer, had three hits and two stolen bases.

Ricardo Rincon worked two scoreless innings, his longest outing in seven years, and Justin Duchscherer earned his first career save.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Lieber ChC vs. J. Blanton LAA
17-13 Record 12-12
4.20 ERA 3.53
149 K 116
41 BB 67
1.21 WHIP 1.22