MLB Insiders - Philadelphia Phillies

Ross Ohlendorf

The Pirates open a three-game series with the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night at PNC Park. Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Phillies will toss right-hander Joe Blanton.

The Phillies, the top road club in the major leagues have won eight of 10 away from home to cement their hold on the NL East lead, and will look to stay hot Tuesday night at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Joe Blanton (8-6, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday, and he has been outstanding since the beginning of June regardless of where he's pitched. The right-hander has gone at least 6 2-3 innings and allowed three runs or fewer in eight straight outings.

Blanton gave up three runs and 10 hits over eight innings in a 12-3 win over Arizona on Thursday.

Blanton is 1-0 with a 0.63 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh (51-71), both at home, and a homer by rookie Garrett Jones was the only damage done over 7 1-3 innings in a July 10 win.

Pirates manager John Russell will give the ball to Ross Ohlendorf (11-8, 4.15), who has been the Pirates' best pitcher lately. He won his last three decisions, limiting Milwaukee to a run and five hits over seven innings of a 5-2 victory last Tuesday.

Ohlendorf gave up three runs over 5 2-3 innings at Philadelphia on July 11, leaving without a decision in an 8-7 loss.

When Cliff Lee was traded to the Phillies on July 29, he said with a smile that he hoped to duplicate the success that former teammate CC Sabathia had last season after moving to the National League.

Actually, Lee has been better.

After allowing two unearned runs in seven innings Monday in a 6-2 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field, Lee became the first pitcher since Marty Bystrom in 1980 to win his first five starts for the Phillies, going 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 40 innings.

In his first five starts for the Brewers last season, Sabathia was 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA.

"It's pretty amazing," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said of Lee. "Not a whole lot of guys can say that they've done that over a five-game span. He's throwing eight different things for strikes, then he'll sneak 94 (mph) in there from the left side. He's throwing everything he wants to, basically, every single time. That kind of consistency is very hard to duplicate, no matter if you're in midseason form or not."

Lee, acquired from the Indians in a six-player trade, has matched his career high by winning eight consecutive starts, including his final three starts for Cleveland. During that span, Lee is 8-0 with a 0.97 ERA (seven earned runs in 65 innings) and four complete games.

"I'm doing what I expected of myself, going deep in games and giving us a chance to win," Lee said after beating the Mets. "I just didn't expect to do it this well."

Said fellow pitcher Cole Hamels, "It's mind-boggling. He's really become the frontrunner all of us can look to when the rest of us falter."

PHILLIES 6, METS 2: Ryan Howard belted two home runs and Cliff Lee tossed seven more strong innings to lift the Phillies to a victory in the series finale at Citi Field. The Phillies won the final three games of the series after dropping the opener Friday night.

With five RBIs, Howard became only the second Phillies player to have at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in four consecutive seasons, joining Hall of Famer Chuck Klein.

Howard leads the team with 34 homers and 104 RBIs. Lee allowed two unearned runs in the first inning and improved to 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in five starts for the Phillies since being acquired in a July 29 trade.

NOTES, QUOTES

--SS Eric Bruntlett continued to garner attention one day after turning only the 15th unassisted triple play in major-league history -- and only the second to end a game. At the request of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Bruntlett has agreed to send his jersey to be displayed. "It's great to have something in there," he told the Phillies' Web site. It's the second piece of memorabilia that Bruntlett has sent to the Hall of Fame. He donated his cold-weather cap, which included earflaps, to Cooperstown after the 2008 World Series. "They took my Elmer Fudd hat," Bruntlett said.

--RHP Brad Lidge has never been a believer in luck. To him, a player's fortune is determined by performance, not a preordained fate. But, after the ninth inning Sunday, Lidge thinks his luck may be turning. After errors by Ryan Howard and Eric Bruntlett led to one run and put the tying run on base, Bruntlett turned an unassisted triple play to secure a 9-7 Phillies victory. It was only the second time in Major League Baseball history that a game has ended with an unassisted triple play. And it gave Lidge, the struggling closer, his 25th save. "The luck is hopefully flip-flopping," said Lidge, 25-for-33 in save chances with a 6.90 ERA. "I don't really believe in luck a whole lot, but sometimes you feel unlucky, like the ball just hasn't bounced the way you'd like it to. Lady Luck changed here, hopefully."

--RHP Pedro Martinez was batting in the first inning Sunday when he saw something he'd never seen before. The Phillies had scored six first-inning runs against LHP Oliver Perez, and Mets manager Jerry Manuel removed Perez from the game with two outs and a 3-0 count to Martinez. Perez allowed six runs on four hits and two walks and threw 47 pitches, only 27 strikes. "That situation with Oliver, I don't know how to judge it," said Martinez, a former teammate of Perez's with the Mets. "I don't know what to say. It's a shocker. I've never seen something like that. I know he didn't do his job. But on a 3-and-0 count, to take him out, it's kind of weird. I don't know if that's disrespect. I don't know how Ollie feels. It definitely was really weird."

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 -- Quality starts for LHP Cliff Lee through Sunday, most in the majors.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You never know what you're going to get when you put two old goats out there. You won't see that very often. You might as well enjoy it. I enjoyed it." -- RHP Pedro Martinez, 37, after combining with 46-year-old LHP Jamie Moyer for a 5-1 victory last Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

ROSTER REPORT

--1B Ryan Howard is a pitchman for Subway, so he took some ribbing from the fans when he crushed a pitch over the Subway sign in right field Monday at Citi Field. "They've been hounding me," Howard said with a laugh. Howard can chuckle because, as usual, he's heating up for the Phillies as the season winds down. He belted two home runs and collected five RBIs in Monday's 6-2 victory over the Mets, making him only the second Phillies player to have at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in four consecutive seasons (Chuck Klein was the other). In his last 15 games, Howard is batting .333 (20-for-60) with three doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 25 RBIs. He leads the Phillies with 34 home runs and 104 RBIs. "That's why I call him the Big Piece," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was the game."

--RF Jayson Werth was named National League Player of the Week on Monday. Werth led the majors with five home runs and 29 total bases last week. He also batted .440 (11-for-25), led the NL with a 1.160 slugging percentage and tied for the league lead with nine RBIs. Werth scored seven runs, collected three doubles and posted a .481 on-base percentage. After going 0-for-2 with three walks Monday against the Mets, Werth was batting .269. He has reached single-season career highs in homers (29), RBIs (79), extra-base hits (52), runs (80), walks (70) and hits (118).

--RHP Brett Myers took another step in his return from June 5 hip surgery by tossing one scoreless inning Monday at Class A Lakewood. Myers, making his second minor-league rehab appearance, allowed a two-out walk in the first inning before getting Chris Nash to line out to center field. He threw 14 pitches, seven for strikes. The Phillies have been encouraged by Myers' progress since he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove bone spurs from his right hip. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said last weekend that Myers likely will need two or three more rehab appearances before he's ready to rejoin the Phillies next month. The Phillies haven't determined when Myers will pitch again, but he's likely to throw multiple innings in his next outing.

--LHP Antonio Bastardo (shoulder strain) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings Monday in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his first minor-league rehab appearance. He had a 1-2-3 first inning and got one out in the second before hitting a batter and allowing a single. Bastardo was placed on the 60-day disabled list Saturday to make room on the 40-man roster for INF Miguel Cairo, but the move doesn't preclude him from making rehab assignments. It's possible that Bastardo, who has been sidelined since June, could rejoin the Phillies as a reliever in September. Bastardo, a rookie, went 2-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts for the Phillies before leaving a June 25 game at Tampa Bay with stiffness in his shoulder.

MEDICAL WATCH:

INF/OF Greg Dobbs (strained left calf) left the Aug. 21 game and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 23.

RHP Brett Myers (torn labrum in right hip) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 4. He had surgery June 4. He threw a simulated game Aug. 6, but had his scheduled Aug. 15 start for Class A Clearwater scratched because of an eye injury that is not serious. He made a rehab start on Aug. 20 instead and then another one on Aug. 24.

RHP Clay Condrey (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 23. He was throwing bullpen sessions in Clearwater, Fla., in early August. He is unlikely to return before Sept. 1.

LHP J.C. Romero (left forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 20. He experienced soreness Aug. 7 during his first rehab appearance for Class A Clearwater, and he was shut down for 10 days. He is unlikely to return before Sept. 1.

LHP Antonio Bastardo (strained left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He made a rehab start on Aug. 24.

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