After Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels pitched back to back scoreless gems, all eyes were on Joe Blanton to finally turn in a decent performance. In pitcher friendly Petco Park against the worst offense in baseball, he did just that. Blanton threw seven innings of two run ball where 13 of the 18 balls he allowed in play were grounders.
The night started out shaky for Blanton, who gave a single to the first batter he faced, then allowed a triple to Josh Bartlett for the Padres first run. He walked the third batter and it appeared like he may be headed for a very short night. However, country Joe bounced back first throwing out Josh Bartlett at home, then getting Jorge Cantu to line out before striking out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat.
Ben Francisco would get the run back in the top of the fourth when he tripled home Jimmy Rollins on a play where Padres outfield Cameron Maybin probably deserves an assist. Francisco hit a liner that sliced to right center that despite clearly having almost no shot at catching, Maybin dove for, taking himself out of the play in the process and allowing the ball to go all the way to the wall.
Unfortunately, the struggling Raul Ibanez would strike out to end the inning.
The only other run the Phillies would give up came in the bottom of the fifth when he gave up a leadoff single to Maybin. Blanton induced two straight groundouts afterward, but Maybin was able to advance each time, putting himself on third with Nick Hundley at the plate. Hundley singled to put the Padres up 2-1.
The Phils would even it up in the next half inning when Jimmy Rollins knocked in Pete Orr.
The bullpen would take over from that point as Danys Baez, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick & Ryan Madson combined for four scoreless innings and just one hit. Bastardo was particularly electric, striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth.
In the top of the 11th Placido Polanco singled to lead off the inning and was able to advance to third with two outs. The Padres elected to walk the rather hot Jimmy Rollins who was 2-3 with a walk to face the ice cold Ryan Howard who had struck out in all four of his at bats. It was the second straight “golden sombrero” for Howard, who has been almost impossibly awful in this series.
So the logic in electing to pitch to Howard was sound, but the result certainly wasn’t what San Diego manager Bud Black was hoping for. Howard roped a 1-0 pitch off the left field wall to score Polanco and Rollins and put the Phils up 4-2. Howard would however be thrown out at home on the ensuing play.
Ryan Madson came on for his second save of the season.
The Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the hill tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 eastern as they go for the sweep. Given what the rest of the Phillies staff has done this weekend combined with pitcher friendly Petco and that terrible Padres lineup… we could be in for something pretty special from Mr Halladay.