Phils can't pick up Blanton as win streak ends

Phils can't pick up Blanton as win streak ends

Phils can't pick up Blanton as win streak ends
PHILADELPHIA --- Mike Aviles offered Joe Blanton a sign of things to come at 7:16 p.m. ET on Saturday. Leading off the game, the Red Sox shortstop hit a 1-2 changeup from the Phillies righty into the left-center field bleachers at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the first of four home runs Blanton would allow. Philadelphia's bullpen gave the club a chance to rally, and typically, 15 hits from the offense might do the trick. However, the Phillies were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base en route to a 7-5 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday.

And with that, Major League Baseball's longest active winning streak of six games was snapped. The Phillies (21-20) will look to start a new one when Cliff Lee (0-1, 1.95 ERA) takes the mound against Josh Beckett (3-4, 4.97) in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET rubber game.

After going 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his previous four starts, Blanton labored through 102 pitches over just 4 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Boston tagged him for seven runs (six earned) and nine hits. He also committed two errors.

Blanton, whose ERA rose from 2.96 to 3.74 in the loss, said his command worsened as the innings wore on. To go along with Aviles' homer, he surrendered back-to-back shots from Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth and a two-run blast from David Ortiz in the fifth that landed in the bushes behind the center-field wall.

"I just threw a lot of pitches down the middle tonight. Not good results when you do that," Blanton said. "When you make mistakes, a lot of times a lineup like that will make you pay."

It looked as if Phillies manager Charlie Manuel might pull Blanton after just four innings, as Pete Orr was sent to the on-deck circle in Blanton's place. However, Manuel changed his mind after Freddy Galvis hit a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 5-4.

"I felt like he still had some left," Manuel said. "I had confidence in him going back out there and pitching an inning or two."

After a Dustin Pedroia single, Ortiz's homer and a single from Middlebrooks in the fifth, Blanton's night was over. But despite his shortcomings on the mound, this was still very much a winnable game for the Phillies.

Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate in the eighth with runners on second and third and two outs. The Red Sox countered by inserting closer Alfredo Aceves to attempt a four-out save. Rollins worked a full count before hitting a ground ball to the shortstop. The Phillies shortstop hustled down the line, barely beat the throw and pumped his fist after first-base umpire Paul Emmel signaled he was safe, scoring Ty Wigginton to make it 7-5.

John Mayberry Jr. walked on four pitches to load the bases for Shane Victorino, but Victorino popped out to shortstop on the first pitch to end the inning.

"You're darn right I would swing at that every single time," said Victorino, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI double. "It just beat me. I tip my hat to him. I went up there looking for a cutter. I got the pitch I wanted and he just beat me."

Another chance was taken away in the seventh when Red Sox center fielder Ryan Sweeney made the play of the game. With runners on first and third, the hot-hitting Carlos Ruiz lofted a ball into the gap in right-center field. However, Sweeney, moving to his left and back toward the wall, dived and robbed Ruiz of what would have likely been a two-run double.

"I thought it saved the game, yeah," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "That's a highlight-reel catch, that's a top-10'er and he, I don't think he had anything left. He gave everything he had, he was full extension and dove and made I think a game-saving catch."

Jon Lester, who entered with a 2-0 record and a 0.43 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies, admittedly did not have his best stuff, either. He allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings.

But five runs on 15 hits did not translate to a seventh straight win for the Phils.

"I felt like we had chances," Manuel said. "We pulled close. And then Ortiz's homer was the big blow in the game. Although we had guys on base, we couldn't catch up."

"We had our chances we just never got that big hit we needed," Victorino said. "We had [15] hits and that alone says we hit the ball well. Unfortunately, sometimes that's how it goes."

Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.