There was reason to believe Joe Blanton was close. In his last start, a win at Cincinnati, Blanton had cruised through four innings before getting torched for a five-spot in the 5th; two starts before that, the beefy righty went eight innings in a 6-2 home loss to the Braves, when three bad pitches did him in. But there was little to foreshadow the sort of dominance that Blanton showed Tuesday night against the Marlins: seven shutout innings, five hits, two walks, and a career-high 11 strikeouts as the Phillies evened the series.
Shane Victorino tasted some redemption as well, following his costly caught-stealing in Monday's 5-3 loss with a four-hit night. Pedro Feliz added two hits and two RBIs, raising his average to .308 for the season. But Blanton was the story, using pinpoint location and a biting slider to flummox the Florida hitters over his 114 pitches.
The Phils were two outs away from registering their first shutout of the 2009 season when Chad Durbin made things interesting. A walk to Dan Uggla, a Cody Ross single and a walk to Chris Coghlan loaded the bases, and Scott Eyre came on to face pinch-hitter Ross Gload. After falling behind 3-0, Eyre battled back to work the count full, then induced a sharp grounder to Ryan Howard at first base. But the big man fired wide to Jimmy Rollins at second base for his first error this year, and two runs scored. Eyre gave way to Brad Lidge, who promptly walked Emilio Bonafacio to reload the bases for Jeremy Hermida. A soft grounder to first accounted for the second out, but Coghlan scored to make it 5-3 and the other two runners advanced. Wes Helms, whose four RBIs had keyed Florida's Monday night win, battled Lidge into a deep count but finally swung over a slider to end the game.
With the Mets 6-1 winners over Washington, the Phils maintain their half-game lead in the division. Brett Myers faces Burke Badenhop in Wednesday night's series finale.