The Phillies got a little bit of everything Monday night as they kicked off a long road trip with a win in San Diego. Starter Joe Blanton didn't dominate the Padres as he did the Marlins in last week's 11-strikeout gem, but he did turn in seven strong innings of six-hit, three-run ball to earn his fourth victory of the season. Chase Utley had two hits, including a solo home run down the line in right, and made a series of fine defensive plays. Ryan Howard struck out four times, but followed Utley's solo shot in the fifth inning with a majestic blast to dead center. And Brad Lidge notched his fourth save in as many games.
The Phils missed some chances to grab an early lead, stranding leadoff doubles in each of the first two innings. They did go ahead 2-1 on RBI hits by Shane Victorino and Utley in the third, but left the bases loaded, as they would do again after the back-to-back homers in the fifth. Blanton momentarily sagged in the bottom of the sixth, surrendering consecutive solo home runs to Adrian Gonzalez--his league-best 21st--and Scott Hairston after recording two outs. But the Phils got one of the runs back in the eighth on a Greg Dobbs pinch-double and a bloop two-base hit from Victorino. With Ryan Madson unavailable, Scott Eyre shut down the Padres in the bottom of the inning, then gave way to Lidge after walking Gonzalez to start the ninth. The newly reinvigorated closer ended the game with just four pitches, one of which bounced away from Carlos Ruiz as Gonzalez took off for second. Ruiz's throw was late, but the San Diego slugger overslid the bag--or was pushed off it by Jimmy Rollins--and was called out. Brian Giles popped up the next pitch to end it.
With the Mets' come-from-ahead loss in Pittsburgh earlier this evening, the Phillies stretch their NL East lead to a game and a half. Tomorrow night, lefty Antonio Bastardo makes his major-league debut against Jake Peavy, the man many Phils fans would like to see in the rotation spot Bastardo now fills.