Atlanta (13-16) at Philadelphia (15-12)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 3:40 pm EDT Sat May 9, 2009
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Philadelphia Phillies could finally exhale after World Series MVP Cole Hamels(notes) finally won a game.

They now hope Joe Blanton(notes) can provide further consistency from the rotation as the Phillies continue their three-game series with the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon.

Hamels had suffered a bruised shoulder and sprained left ankle in his previous two starts, with the latter injury causing him to skip a turn in the rotation. But the left-hander pitched six innings and didn’t suffer a injury as Philadelphia (15-12) opened the series with a 10-6 victory.

“I’m glad nothing came down and hit me,” he said. “It was almost abnormal, being out there in the sixth inning.”

The Phillies now hope Blanton (1-2, 6.84) can follow Hamels’ lead, and have reason to be optimistic since the right-hander is coming off his best start of the season. Blanton limited St. Louis to one run in six innings of a 6-1 victory Monday, dropping his ERA nearly two runs in the process.

“It’s kind of one of those that’s not that big of a deal, but at the same time, sometimes the first one is the hardest one to get,” Blanton told the Phillies’ official Web site. “So it’s kind of a double-edged sword. I wasn’t pressing. I’ve had worse starts. I definitely wasn’t pressing.”

Blanton opposed Braves scheduled starter Javier Vazquez(notes) on April 8 and was fortunate to leave without a decision as the Phillies rallied for a 12-11 win after he was roughed up for seven runs and nine hits in four innings. Blanton has no record and a 13.50 ERA in two lifetime starts against Philadelphia, giving up nine runs in six innings.

Jimmy Rollins(notes), who has hit safely in a season-high six straight games to raise his average to .211, is 8-for-47 (.170) with 14 strikeouts lifetime against Vazquez. Chase Utley(notes), one of three Phillies to homer Friday, is 4-for-12 with two doubles, two triples and four RBIs against Vazquez.

For Atlanta, first baseman Casey Kotchman(notes) has homered in consecutive games after failing to hit any his first 27. He is, however, batting .310 with 11 doubles in 100 at-bats.

Vazquez (2-3, 4.19) hopes going on the road will help him, and the Braves, regroup. The right-hander has been roughed up for 11 runs and 16 hits in 14 2-3 innings while losing his last two starts - both at home - and gave up three homers and six runs overall in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-4 defeat to the New York Mets on Monday.

“Just bad pitches,” said Vazquez, who had yielded just one home run in his first five starts. “The exact same spot. Fastballs, right over the middle and up. … Good hitters don’t miss mistakes. That’s the bottom line.”

His bullpen cost him a victory at Philadelphia on April 8, blowing a six-run lead after he gave up three runs in six innings of Atlanta’s eventual 12-11 loss. Vazquez, who has lost his last three decisions versus the Phillies since his last win over them Aug. 28, 2003, is 10-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 24 lifetime starts against Philadelphia.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Vazquez Mia vs. J. Blanton KC
15-10 Record 12-8
2.87 ERA 4.05
238 K 163
44 BB 59
1.03 WHIP 1.32


Saturday, May 9