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Werth’s Grand Slam Leads Phillies Past Nationals

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        Jayson Werth     Joe Blanton

Phillies starter Joe Blanton pitched six socreless innings on Wednesday. 2nd baseman Chase Utley and 1st baseman Ryan Howard worked a first inning double-steal with Utley stealing home on a delayed swipe to notch the Phils’ first run off of Washington starter Livan Hernandez.  Leftfielder  Raul Ibanez scored the 2nd run in the sixth inning on an error on a fielder’s choice.  With 2 outs in the seventh inning and Jason Bergmann on the mound, the 3rd of 3 relievers of the inning, rightfielder Jayson Werth belted a grand slam.  Werth’s slam led the Phillies past the Nationals by a 6-1 score in game 2 of the 3 game series.

With the win, the Phils remained 7 games up in the NL East division on 2nd Florida, who beat St. Louis and 7 1/2 up on 3rd place Atlanta who beat the  Mets.

Blanton tossed six shutout innings throwing 106 pitches while easing out of jams in the first, second, fourth and sixth to earn his 10th win of the season.  He gave up 5 hits while wlking 4 and striking out 7.  In the process, Blanton as well as relievers Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madson extended the scoreless string of Phillies pitching to 26 innings before Washington finally notched their only run against Tyler Walker in the ninth.

AP sports writer Rob Maaddi recaps the game for Yahoo sports:

Blanton (10-7) allowed five hits and struck out seven. The Phillies were one out away from recording three consecutive shutouts for the first time in 40 years when Willie Harris singled in a run off Tyler Walker.

The NL East-leading Phillies reduced their magic number for clinching their third straight division title to 11 with 18 games remaining.

Livan Hernandez (8-11) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. The lowly Nationals are 3-14 against Philadelphia this season.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who have combined for 69 homers, used their legs to produce the first run in the first inning, with Utley swiping home on a delayed double steal.

Utley singled with two outs and moved to third on Howard’s base hit. [With Ibanez at bat,] Howard then broke for second and slid in safely ahead of catcher Wil Nieves’ throw. Utley raced home once Nieves released the ball and scored without a throw as shortstop Cristian Guzman reacted slowly after applying the late tag.

It was Howard’s seventh stolen base this season. He had two career steals before this year, but dropped more than 25 pounds in the offseason.

“I think he’s a little quicker because of the weight,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Utley became the 10th player in franchise history to record 20 steals and 20 homers in the same season.

The Phillies Nation blog adds more detail the first inning Utley/Howard double-steal and the Phils’ sixth inning run:

Ryan Howard successfully stole second, while Chase Utley capitalized on the mistake by catcher Jesus Flores [Wil Nieves], scoring run number one.  It was Utley’s 20th steal of the year.

In the sixth inning, another fielding blunder by Washington led to Raul Ibanez scoring on a near double play off the bat of Pedro Feliz. The 124th error of the Nats season made it 2-0 Phils.

Maaddi’s recap continues:

Werth drove a 1-2 pitch from Jason Bergmann deep to left-center in the seventh for his third career slam and second this year. The All-Star right fielder has 34 homers and 88 RBIs in his first full season as a regular.

“I knew he could produce from an offensive standpoint and I knew he had power, but I didn’t know how consistent he’d be,” Manuel said. “He’s still learning. He can get better.”

Chan Ho Park left with a strained right hamstring after pitching a scoreless eighth [seventh] inning. Philadelphia had four straight shutouts from Aug. 13-16, 1969

Losing pitcher Hernandez again pitched well against the Phils through his six innings throwing 95 pitches and giving up 2 runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4 but suffered from the all-too-frequent Nationals malaise — lack of offensive support.  But the Phils once again victimized the Washington bullpen in the seventh when Utley was hit by a pitch followed by walks to Howard (intentionally) and to Ibanez.  Werth followed with his grand slam to left centerfield, the only hit of the inning, off of Bergmann.

For the scores of all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

The Phils hope for a sweep in Thursday’s series final as 2 lefthanders meet.  Cole Hamels is opposed by rookie Ross Detwiler.

For all of Thursday’s games, click here.

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