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News » Phillies-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-03

Phillies-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-03

Phillies-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-03
The Philadelphia Phillies have been hurt by poor performances from Joe Blanton and the rest of their rotation. Facing Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals likely won't make it easy for them to end their struggles.

After both teams had their last games postponed, Blanton and the Phillies look to keep the Cardinals' potent lineup in check in the opener of a two-game set Monday night.

Defending champion Philadelphia (12-10) got off to a slow start, due largely to ineffective starting pitching. Phillies starters have four wins, a 6.71 ERA and a .329 opponents' batting average.

Blanton (0-2, 8.41 ERA), scheduled to start against New York on Sunday before the game was postponed due to rain, will face St. Louis (17-8) to kick off this series. The right-hander took a step back in his last outing after two straight effective starts.

Blanton gave up six runs and eight hits - three homers - in Philadelphia's 13-11 win over Washington last Monday.

"Where do we start?" Blanton said. "I was terrible. I pretty much stunk. I was missing my spots and getting too much of the plate. It was probably the worst start I've had here."

He won his only start against St. Louis, giving up one run and four hits in seven innings as Philadelphia won 2-1 on Aug. 2.

Pujols went 0-for-3 in that contest, but he's leading a Cardinals lineup that ranks among the best in the majors with 5.6 runs per game. The veteran first baseman has had two straight days off, getting a scheduled break in St. Louis' 6-1 loss to Washington on Saturday before the series finale was postponed the next day.

With Pujols out of the lineup for the first time this season, the Cardinals suffered at the plate. Pujols homered in the first two games of the series as St. Louis scored a combined 15 runs in a pair of victories.

"His legs were a little (sore) because he's done so much running, and we don't want to push him," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the team's official Web site. "I don't think mentally he needs the break as much as physically. He's not hurting, but he's sore."

The two-time NL MVP is among the major league leaders in homers (nine), RBIs (29) and slugging percentage (.746). The Cardinals are 2-5 when Pujols does not have a hit.

Philadelphia is averaging 7.1 runs in its last eight games, going 6-2. The Phillies split two games with the Mets, winning 6-5 in 10 innings Saturday to avoid a third straight defeat.

Philadelphia will now face Kyle Lohse (3-0, 1.97), who's trying to open a season 4-0 for the first time in his nine-year career.

Though he was fighting an upset stomach Tuesday in Atlanta, Lohse allowed four hits and four walks with six strikeouts in six shutout innings of a 2-1 loss. The right-hander has yielded two runs or fewer in three of his last four outings.

Lohse is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts versus the Phillies. He earned two wins against Philadelphia last year, but the Phillies won the season series with St. Louis 5-4.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 4, 2009

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