The Phillies will send Blanton to the mound Sunday when they try to continue their pursuit of the NL East title and spoil the Milwaukee Brewers’ home finale.
Philadelphia (89-65) has decided to open the closer’s job to pitchers other than the struggling Brad Lidge(notes), who has blown 11 of 42 save chances this year after converting all 48 in the regular season and playoffs in 2008, to help the Phillies win the World Series.
The bullpen faltered again Saturday as Walker surrendered a two-run homer to Ryan Braun in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 7-5 loss. Philadelphia’s magic number to clinch a third straight NL East title remained at four.
“I’m not taking anything for granted,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies will try to avoid a third straight loss to close this four-game set behind Blanton (11-7, 3.82 ERA), who seeks to extend his 13-inning scoreless streak. He yielded five hits over six shutout innings Sept. 16 in a 6-1 win over Washington, and gave up two hits in seven more scoreless innings Monday to earn a 9-3 victory over Florida.
The right-hander has 16 strikeouts during his scoreless streak.
Blanton is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers. He gave up three runs over six innings April 22 in a 3-1 home loss to Milwaukee.
This series features the top two RBI leaders in the majors in Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder(notes) (137) and Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard(notes) (136). Both sluggers have one homer and six RBIs in this series, with Fielder going 4 for 12 and Howard 6 for 13.
Milwaukee has won four of six against Philadelphia, clinching the season series. The Brewers committed two errors that led to two unearned runs Saturday before Braun’s heroics rescued them.
“This wasn’t a pretty game, but quite a finish,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Dave Bush(notes) (5-8, 6.22) will try to snap his personal four-game home losing streak for Milwaukee. Bush went 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA in his first six starts at Miller Park, but is 0-4 with a 7.50 ERA in his last four.
Bush had the second-shortest start of his career against the Cubs on Tuesday, when he was tagged for six runs over 1 1-3 innings in a 7-2 loss. He has struggled since suffering a small tear in a muscle after being hit by a line drive on June 4.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 5.01 ERA in seven starts against the Phillies. He earned the win April 23, allowing one run over 7 2-3 innings of a 6-1 victory. The Brewers are 3-0 at home against Philadelphia when Bush starts.