Phillies starter Joe Blanton had easily his best outing of the season going six innings, keeping the ball in the park and giving up only 1 run against St. Louis. Rightfielder Jayson Werth belted a fourth inning 2 run homer off of Kyle Lohse and 1st baseman Ryan Howard pounded his 2nd grand slam homer of the season off of Lohse in the fifth to power the Phillies past the Cardinals by a 6-1 score on Monday.
For four innings, the game was close, first with the Cards leading 1-0 after three as Lohse was hit by a pitch in the third, moved to 2nd base on a ground out and scored on 3rd baseman Joe Thurston’s ground rule double off of Blanton to leftfield. Thurston was 3 for 5 for the game, getting 3 of the Cardinals’ 5 hits in the game. The Cards nearly got more runs in the inning as they loaded the bases on a fielding error by 2nd baseman Chase Utley. But Thurston tried to score on the play and was nailed for the final out.
The Phillies didn’t take long to answer the Cardinals’ third inning run. They had left 3 runners on through three innings on 2 Lohse walks in the first inning and a 2 out single by catcher Carlos Ruiz in the second before Lohse went clean in the third. But in the fourth, Howard led off with a single. Werth followed with a 2 run to right centerfield to put the Phils up 2-1. Lohse retired the next 3 hitters in a row to end the inning but struggled for the remainder of his outing claiming that his left arm was numb from the hit.
Through four innings, Blanton only ran into trouble in the third and went clean on the Cards in the first and fourth innings while allowing only 1 hit, that being a 1 out single to left centerfield by rightfielder Ryan Ludwick.
After Lohse struck out Blanton to open the inning, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and centerfielder Shane Victorino each singled and Lohse hit Utley with a pitch to load the bases. Howard, who is a career .383 career hitter in St. Louis with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 60 at-bats, pounded Lohse’s 1-1 pitch over the wall in rightfield, an estimated 428 feet away, for his fifth homer of the season. Werth followed with a double to leftfield chasing Lohse. Lefthanded reliever Trever Miller finished out the fifth inning retiring the next 2 hitters.
Lohse threw 89 pitches in 4 1/3 innings giving up all 6 Phillies runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4 in his first loss of the season.
Blanton gave up two 2 out singles in the fifth inning but managed to retire 1st baseman Albert Pujols on a line-out to leftfield for the final out. Pujols was 0 for 3 for the game walking once. He got into hot water in the sixth as the Cards loaded the bases with 1 out on a walk, a hit batsman and a fielder’s choice which went awry. But Blanton got out of the jam with a strike out and a fielder’s choice grounder.
3 Phils relievers took over for Blanton pitching an inning each and holding the Cards to 1 hit while hitting a batsman over the final innings.
Meanwhile, only 1 Phil reached base on 5 other Cardinal relievers after the fifth inning, that being Chase Utley’s 1 out single to rightfield in the seventh. The closest that the Phils to a hit after that came on 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz’s eighth inning drive to deep centerfield. But centerfielder Rick Ankiel made the catch on the run before his momentum carried him, head-first at full speed, crashing into the centerfield wall. AP sports writer R.B. Fallstrom describes Ankiel’s play for Yahoo sports;
Ankiel ran full speed to track down Pedro Feliz’s drive [to the gap] in the eighth and couldn’t stop himself from slamming into the padded outfield wall.
….He flashed a thumbs-up sign as he was carted off the field strapped to a gurney and wearing a neck brace.
The outfielder was taken to a hospital for X-rays and a CT scan. Cardinals physician Dr. George Paletta told manager Tony La Russa that Ankiel showed signs of whiplash and puffiness in his face.
Paletta told the team that Ankiel never lost consciousness on the field.
“It’s a scary thing to see, there’s no doubt about it,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said.
AP’s Fallstrom writes in a follow-up report on Ankiel:
X-rays and a CT scan of Ankiel’s head, neck and back were all negative and showed no fractures, team spokesman Brian Bartow said. Ankiel remained hospitalized overnight for observation and the team said he was day-to-day.
Blanton pitched a typical game for his style, 101 pitches in six innings, he struck out 3 while getting 7 outs on grounders while registering 8 outs on fly balls. He gave up 4 hits and walked 2 in winning his first game of the season.
Brett Myers will face Adam Wainwright on Tuesday as the Phillies try to win both sides of this 2 day series. They return east on Wednesday for a 2 game series, this time in New York, against the Mets on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Atlanta for a 3 game weekend series to conclude this week’s weird scheduling.
For all of Tuesday’s games, click here.