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Preview: Cincinnati Reds (49-38) at Philadelphia Phillies (44-40)

(Sports Network) – Many assume that the Phillies will be in the hunt for pitching prior to the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of this month. That need will be lessened a bit if Joe Blanton can get on track.

Blanton will try to pitch Philadelphia to a second victory in a row this evening when his club continues a four-game set versus the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park.

After beginning the season on the disabled list because of an oblique injury, Blanton has gone 3-5 with a 6.27 earned run average in 12 starts and has allowed at least three runs in every outing this year. He was able to lock down consecutive wins near the end of June, but has posted two straight no- decisions, including on Sunday versus the Pirates. The right-hander gave up five runs on six hits without a walk and seven strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of his team’s 8-5 setback.

“Kind of the way it’s gone for me,” Blanton told Philadelphia’s website. “[I] was throwing the ball great and still find a way to give up three or five runs. That’s hard to take.”

Blanton won his first two career decisions versus the Reds before getting a no-decision in a June 29 victory for the Phillies. The 29-year-old gave up three runs over 7 2/3 innings of a game his club won 9-6.

Despite blowing two leads after starter Kyle Kendrick left Thursday’s series opener, including one by closer Brad Lidge on Miguel Cairo’s pinch-hit double in the ninth, the Phillies claimed a 4-3 triumph in 12 innings thanks to Brian Schneider’s walk-off solo homer against the Reds’ Jordan Smith.

“You don’t go up there trying to hit a home run,” Schneider said. “I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”

Shane Victorino had three hits and hit his career-high-tying 14th homer of the season for the Phillies, who won for just the third time in nine games but did move within 5 1/2 games of idle Atlanta for first place in the National League East.

On the same day he locked down a spot on the NL All-Star roster through the league’s Final Vote contest, Joey Votto hit his league-leading 22nd homer and scored the game-tying run on Cairo’s hit. However, the Reds fell to 5-3 on an 11-game road trip that closes out their first half.

Cincinnati, which still leads St. Louis by three games for first place in the NL Central, hopes that rookie Mike Leake can build off his last start as he held the Cubs to three runs and eight hits over six innings of a 14-3 victory on Sunday. The 22-year-old was 0-1 with a 6.85 ERA in four starts prior to that outing but did allow two homers for the third time in five starts.

That includes an outing versus the Phillies and Blanton in which Schneider and Wilson Valdez connected on three-run homers off the right-handed Arizona State product. Leake got a no-decision in that outing, his first ever versus Philadelphia.

Leake is 6-1 with a 3.38 ERA on the season and 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in six road starts.

The Phillies and Reds have split four meetings this season after Cincinnati took two of three at home earlier this week, but the Philadelphia has still won 11 of 16 and 16 of the last 24 meetings in the series.