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Blanton In Command Against Cubs

Joe Blanton won't blow the ball by hitters, but when he has command of his fastball, he can be an effective pitcher.

That was surely the case in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, when Blanton went 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing in nearly two years.

He allowed two earned runs on eight hits, but also struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.

Blanton throws his fastball in the low 90's.

What was impressive is that when he recorded his eighth and final strikeout in the eighth inning, Blanton got David DeJesus on a 90-mile per hour four-seem fastball.

"He was locating his fastball real well on both sides," catcher Carlos Ruiz said.

Even on a team with three aces, the No. 5 spot in the rotation is key and Blanton can provide a major boost with consistency.

He has had two really good starts and two where he allowed seven earned runs in 11 innings.

The other quality start was a 3-1 win against Miami, where Blanton allowed just three hits and one run in seven innings. He also struck out three and walked one. So in his two wins, Blanton has struck out 11 and walked.

He said that his fastball command was probably slightly better in his earlier win. And then Blanton talked about the importance of commanding his fastball, keeping it down in the zone.

"You are able to get ahead of hitters and it makes your off-speed pitches better because you are ahead in the count," he said. "It also allows you to throw fastballs behind in the count because you are locating it and no missing over the middle of the plate."

Now the next step is getting more consistency with the command.

Two good starts, two not so-good ones. It amounts to a .500 pitcher and this season, the Phillies need more than that, even from their No. 5 starter.