If the middle matchup of this three-game set between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves was any indication, Joe Blanton and Randall Delgado could be in for a long day on the mound during Thursday afternoon's series finale.
What many expected to be a pitchers' duel between the Phillies' Roy Halladay and Braves' Tommy Hanson on Wednesday instead turned into a slugfest, with Atlanta (15-10) ultimately prevailing 15-13 on Chipper Jones' two-run homer in the 11th inning.
"What a cool moment that was, not only for Chipper, but for the rest of us out there to enjoy that, to watch that," said Brian McCann, who hit a grand slam off Halladay. "To see him walk down the first base line like that, that's a treat for all of us."
The Braves entered Wednesday having been outscored 51-14 over an eight-game losing streak to the five-time reigning NL East champions.
"That's right up there just because the team that we're kind of shooting for in the division obviously is the Phillies," said Jones, whose 458 homers rank third among active players. "Until somebody knocks them off, they're the team to beat."
The Phillies' Carlos Ruiz, meanwhile, continued his torrid stretch with a homer, two doubles and a career-high seven RBIs. He is batting .458 with a pair of long balls and 13 RBIs over a six-game hitting streak.
"He's been awesome for us," said Halladay, who gave up eight earned runs for just the fifth time in his career. "I think that's what hurts most. When you have games like this, your teammates are out there grinding and getting it done and I didn't. And that was the difference, really."
Philadelphia (12-13) will look to get back on track behind Blanton (2-3, 3.81 ERA), who has compiled a 1.88 ERA in winning each of his two home outings but struggled in opposing ballparks. The right-hander has been tagged for 10 runs - seven earned - and 18 hits over two road starts spanning 11 innings.
Blanton gave up two runs and eight hits over a season-high 7 1-3 in Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
"He had his offspeed stuff," Cubs manager Dale Sveum told MLB.com. "He was using it for strikes, he was locating it and getting ahead, and just going from there, really. With that offspeed stuff, he's always capable of doing that, and when he's locating and getting ahead, you know, working his fastball in, he is really tough."
Blanton, however, is 1-4 with a 5.19 ERA in 10 starts against the Braves.
Dan Uggla is 3 for 22 with eight strikeouts lifetime against Blanton. McCann and Martin Prado, though, are a combined 15 for 41 (.366) with five homers.
Since winning his first two outings, Delgado (2-2, 6.30) has been hit hard during his two latest starts. After yielding career worsts of five runs and four walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss at Arizona on April 22, Delgado allowed four and three, respectively, over 4 1-3 in Saturday's 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
"Young pitchers have a tendency to run away from the bat a little bit and get themselves in some trouble," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the 22-year-old right-hander. "But the little bit I know about him from last year and this year, he's going to be OK. He's going to use these last two outings as an experience and builder."
Delgado gave up two runs and five hits - including a homer to Jimmy Rollins - and didn't receive a decision Sept. 26 in his only career start against Philadelphia.