The longball came in handy Saturday night against the Cardinals, pacing the Phillies to a 2-1 win at Busch Stadium II. A Marlins win keeps them within 1.5 games back; a late Mets loss puts them two back.
Greg Dobbs and Ryan Howard homered for the Phils, giving Joe Blanton the offense he needed to grab a victory. The new Phillie ate seven innings, striking out five and giving up just four hits. He benefited from a wider strike zone by home plate umpire Marty Foster, but also pitched pretty well as is. He contained Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus, giving up just a homer by Ryan Ludwick, who’s been on a tear lately.
The bullpen nailed it down yet again. The dynamic duo of JC Romero and Chad Durbin did it in the eighth, with the latter inducing a double play ball to end the inning. Brad Lidge shook off the ridiculous Pujols talk and got him out, then defused the Cards quickly for his 27th save in as many chances.
Offensively it wasn’t a dream game. The Phils didn’t hit Braden Looper much at all. Howard continued his ridiculous success off the right-hander (4-for-5, 4 HR), while Dobbs improved his lefty-righty splits even more. Everything else â€” wasn’t much else. Two other hits in the game total. Not a good day for the offense.
But this is how you draw it up with pitching. Your starter goes seven. Your setup men (a lefty and righty) take turns holding the lead in the eighth. Your shutdown closer gets it done in the ninth. And for this night, the Blanton acquisition looked freakin’ brilliant. One hopes this formula continues down the stretch.
Associated Press photo