ATLANTA, Ga. -- If you missed Joe Blanton's third career shutout, it might be because you blinked your eyes. It took the veteran right-hander a mere two hours and two minutes to go the distance against the Braves on Thursday afternoon as the Phillies quickly erased any lingering disappointment from the previous night's wild loss with a 4-0 victory at Turner Field.
If there was any doubt about Blanton finishing the game, Shane Victorino erased it with a two-run home run in the top of the ninth. Blanton had thrown just 82 pitches, holding the Braves to two hits with five strikeouts in the first eight innings of play. Victorino's home run was his fifth of the season and his first against a right-handed pitcher.
The switch-hitting center fielder entered the day hitting .209 with one extra base hit in 67 at-bats from the left side of the plate.
The Braves hit several balls hard against Blanton, but good fortune and strong outfield defense saw them result in outs. In his last two starts, the veteran right-hander has held opponents to two runs on 10 hits with 13 strikeouts and no walks in 17 1/3 innings. His most recent shutout came in June of 2007, when he blanked the Twins. Blanton also shut out the Royals in May of 2006.
The Phillies were coming off a deflating 15-13 defeat that saw them blow a six-run lead in the fifth and a four-run lead in the eighth.
Blanton threw just 88 pitches, the fewest in a nine-inning complete game shutout since Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens threw 83 while blanking the Astros on July 15 of last season. Only four other pitchers have achieved the feat since the start of the 2008 season.
Only two other Phillies have thrown a nine-inning shutout in as few of pitches: Mike Grace shut out the Yankees in 84 pitches on Sept. 2, 1997, and Chris Short shut out Houston in 68 pitches on Sept. 10, 1963.