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News » Brewers-Phillies Preview 2009-04-22

Brewers-Phillies Preview 2009-04-22

Brewers-Phillies Preview 2009-04-22
Joe Blanton was solid down the stretch in a steady Philadelphia Phillies' rotation in 2008 and was even better in the postseason, particularly in their NL division series clincher against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Neither Blanton nor the rest of the staff has followed suit yet in 2009.

Blanton will look to bounce back from a rocky start to his season - and his first loss as a Phillie - on Wednesday night in the middle of a three-game set with the visiting Brewers.

Blanton (0-1, 9.00 ERA) went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in the pennant race for the Phillies (6-6) last summer after coming over from Oakland, and he stepped up again in the playoffs. Blanton gave up just a run in six innings - striking out seven - as Philadelphia won Game 4 of the NLDS against Milwaukee, and he wound up 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in the postseason, also winning Game 4 of the World Series.

The Phillies were sixth in the majors with a 3.88 ERA during the 2008 regular season, but that number is 6.62 so far in 2009. The rotation has been even shakier, posting a major-league worst 7.52 ERA.

Blanton gave up seven runs in four innings without earning a decision in his first start, then took a loss his last time out despite a far better performance. The right-hander gave Philadelphia its first quality start of the season Thursday at Washington, allowing three runs and eight hits in six innings, but the Phillies' offense was quiet in an 8-2 loss.

The offense, though, has kept Philadelphia from dipping too far below .500, and in the opener against the Brewers (4-9) on Tuesday, it helped even their record. Pedro Feliz had three hits, including a homer, to help lead the way to an 11-4 win.

"I'm feeling much better," said Feliz, who's hitting .359 - up 90 points from last season, when he was bothered by a back injury. "I've been working a lot and my back feels good."

Feliz is 12-for-29 (.414) over his last eight games, but he'll be in for a challenge Wednesday. He's just 1-for-13 in his career against Braden Looper (1-0, 3.27), who will start for the Brewers.

Looper has been solid in both starts, and Milwaukee has won both times he's pitched. Looper picked up his first victory last Wednesday against Cincinnati, yielding three runs and six hits while striking out five over six innings in a 9-3 win.

"I felt real good out of the gate," Looper told the Brewers' official Web site. "Probably the best I've felt all spring."

Looper went 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against the Phillies last season, and those losses were primarily due to Ryan Howard. Philadelphia's slugging first baseman hit three homers in the two games, and is 4-for-5 with four homers and two walks in his career against Looper.

Blanton, meanwhile, will have a different slugger to worry about. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was 10-for-45 (.222) with a homer and five RBIs in his first 12 games, but broke out Tuesday despite the loss. He went 5-for-5 with a pair of homers, driving in all four of Milwaukee's runs.

Braun is 0-for-3 in his career against Blanton. First baseman Prince Fielder, who continues to struggle (.163, 16 strikeouts in 43 at-bats), has one hit in three at-bats versus Blanton.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 22, 2009

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