Blanton outpitches Santana

July 5, 2009 1:53:44 PM PDT
Joe Blanton pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning and Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley each homered off Johan Santana, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 2-0 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of their NL East rival. The Phillies had lost 12 of 15 and returned home after being swept by the Atlanta Braves, but took advantage of the injury-ravaged Mets to earn their first sweep at home since taking three straight from the Nationals May 29-31.

The defending World Series Champions pushed the third-place Mets four games back in the NL East, handing them their eighth loss in 11 games. The Marlins beat the Pittsburgh Pirates to remain a game back in the division.

Blanton retired the first seven Mets before Luis Castillo bounced a single over third baseman Pedro Feliz's head. Castillo was sacrificed to second, but stranded there on a diving stop by Ryan Howard, one of several fine fielding plays by the first baseman.

The righty allowed little else, striking out five and lowering his ERA to 4.69. He was challenged in the sixth inning after an 11-pitch walk to Daniel Murphy, but escaped by getting David Wright to ground into a double play, started by Utley.

Since snapping a seven-game winning streak on June 4, the Phillies endured a 24-game stretch in which they went 7-17 with a .235 batting average and a 5.02 ERA.

Rollins, who batted .169 during that stretch, keyed Sunday's win with his 30th career leadoff homer, on Santana's second pitch. The 2007 NL MVP is 7-for-14 with a homer and three doubles after a career-worst 0-for-28 slump that included a four-game benching during the road trip.

Utley connected with two outs in the sixth.

Santana, named to his fourth All-Star team, pitched more like an ace than the struggling lefty who posted a 6.19 ERA in June, the worst June of his 10-year career. Other than the homers to Rollins and Utley, he allowed one other hit, and struck out three in seven innings.

Brad Lidge struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his 16th save in 22 opportunities. He has converted his past three chances.

NOTES: The Phillies are 16-22 at Citizens Bank Park. ... Phillies' left-handed pitcher Scott Eyre was activated from the disabled list before Sunday's game, with Sergio Escalona returned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Castillo sliced two hits on Sunday, moving to 8 for 16 in his career vs. Blanton.

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