By CHARLES ODUM, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Joe Blanton's plan for a quick and efficient win on Thursday keyed on his hope to take advantage of a marathon game the night before.
Blanton pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout in five years and Shane Victorino hit a two-run homer to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.
"I tried to use last night to my advantage a little bit with an early 12 o'clock start today," Blanton said. "I wanted to pound the zone a lot and hope that maybe they were coming out a touch lethargic. I don't know if that was the case or not.
Blanton needed only 2 hours, 2 minutes for his win in the noon start. It provided a dramatic reversal of the Braves' 15-13 win in 11 innings on Wednesday night when the teams combined for 36 hits.
Wednesday night's 4-hour game lasted almost twice as long as Blanton's masterful performance.
The Braves barely had time to wake up.
Blanton (3-3) did not walk a batter and had six strikeouts in his third career shutout, his first since June 2, 2007 for Oakland against Minnesota.
The Braves' only hits were singles by Freddie Freeman in the first, David Ross in the fifth and Michael Bourn in the ninth. Martin Prado then lined out into a double play to end the game.
Blanton, with his red socks pulled up to his knees, was dominant as he needed only 88 pitches. He faced only 29 batters, two above the minimum.
"Perfect timing after last night's game," Phillies catcher Brian Schneider said. "Joe did great. He mixed up his pitches, he got ahead of a lot of hitters. ... It was a lot of fun catching him today."
The Phillies used six pitches in Wednesday night's loss.
Because he was able to give the Phillies' bullpen a break, Blanton said this could be the best start of his career.
"I think so, just from the fact there were a lot of guys who pitched last night and I had to go deep," he said. "I think that was the biggest thing, that guys got some rest today."
Left fielder Laynce Nix had two hits, including a homer in the sixth inning. He was 5-for-9 in the series with four RBIs and is hitting .342 as he continues to earn playing time in the outfield and at first base.
"It's hard for me to take him out, isn't it?" asked manager Charlie Manuel. "He's hitting the ball hard, he's hitting homers, he's hitting doubles, he's hitting .300, and .300 hitters are hard to come by these days. At the same time, that doesn't mean that John Mayberry is not going to be playing."
The win allowed the Phillies to take two of three games in the first series between the NL East rivals. The Phillies were 12-6 against the Braves in 2011, including three-game sweeps in the last two series.
"It's not a rivalry until we beat them, and beat them consistently," Atlanta's Chipper Jones said. "Can we play with them? Yes. Can we beat them? Yes. We just have to do it consistently."
Atlanta's Randall Delgado (2-3) also pitched well while allowing six hits and two runs with no walks in eight innings, the longest start of his career.
"He deserved a better fate than what he got," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Delgado. "He pitched great. He gave us every opportunity to win this game, and we didn't."
Delgado gave up a run in the first when Jimmy Rollins singled, moved to second on Juan Pierre's bunt single, advance to third on Victorino's fly out and scored on Hunter Pence's sacrifice fly.
Delgado didn't allow another run until the seventh, when Nix hit his second homer over the 400-foot sign in center. Victorino hit a two-run homer in the ninth.
Blanton had a base-running blunder in the eighth. He singled to center with one out, but then took off for second on Rollins' fly ball to left field. Martin Prado quickly threw the ball to Dan Uggla, whose relay throw to first easily beat Blanton back for a double play.
Blanton said he knew there was only one out when Rollins' at-bat began but then wrongly thought there were two outs.
"My mind was somewhere else," Blanton said. "I guess I was still thinking about pitching."
NOTES: RHP Roy Halladay left the team after Wednesday night's game to attend to a personal family matter. He is expected to rejoin the Phillies in Washington on Friday. ... Braves C Brian McCann had a scratch on the edge of his right eye when Michael Bourn, attempting a high-five at the plate after McCann's grand slam Wednesday night, accidently hit him in the face. McCann had the eye examined Thursday morning. He said he feels some discomfort but said there is no injury. He had a scheduled day off Thursday. ... Jones also had a routine day off after his game-winning homer in 11th Wednesday night. ... The Braves open a three-game series at Colorado on Friday night with RHP Tim Hudson (1-0) making his second start against RHP Guillermo Moscoso (0-1).