published Friday, May 4th, 2012

Phillies, Joe Blanton blank Braves

ATLANTA -- Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver used to say that momentum is the next day's starting pitcher.

Not a single member of the Atlanta Braves would likely argue that theory after Thursday afternoon's 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Less than 15 hours after scoring 15 runs against the Phillies in Wednesday night's stunning 11-inning win, the Braves were rudely blanked by pitcher Joe Blanton's lethal mix of velocity and versatility.

"Guys were coming back to the dugout all day saying, 'Right when I thought he was going to bring the heater, he throws the cutter, and when I expected the cutter he'd throw the heater,'" said Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, who sat this one out to rest his 40-year-old knees.

"Blanton's a guy who can give you fits. He knows how to pitch, knows how to keep you off balance."

Yet the stocky 31-year-old had never won a game at Turner Field in six previous appearances and five starts. Blanton (3-3) was all but untouchable this time, however, throwing a complete game that included six strikeouts, no walks and just three hits allowed.

Philadelphia improved to 13-13 while Atlanta dropped to 15-11 with its third loss in four games. The Braves begin a nine-game road trip tonight at Colorado.

"This is probably the best I've felt physically and mechanically since 2007," said Blanton, a University of Kentucky product and Nashville native who's battled a series of injuries in recent years. "I was just pitching today. Everything felt great."

Asked if this was the best game of his eight-year major league career, the man they call "Hamburger Joe" said, "I think so. Just the fact that we had a lot of guys who pitched a lot of innings last night, so I needed to go deep and I did."

Not that the Braves pitcher opposite Hamburger Joe was exactly chopped liver. In what was clearly the best performance of his young career, 22-year-old Randall Delgado threw eight complete innings, allowing just two runs, six hits and no walks. He struck out five.

"He did everything well," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Delgado (2-3). "And the more times we can run him out there, the better he'll be."

Still, the Phillies were better than the Braves for the ninth time in their last 10 meetings, home runs by Shane Victorino (a two-run shot off reliever Livan Hernandez) and Laynce Nix providing all the offense they would need.

"Everybody says this is a rivalry," Jones said, "but it's not a rivalry until we beat them and beat them consistently. We still have a ways to go in that department."

But they did beat the Phillies Wednesday night in dramatic fashion, coming from six runs down and four runs down to win 15-13 in extra innings on a Jones home run. That win set off a celebration at the plate not seen since 1999, which just also happened to be the Braves' last World Series appearance.

So did that unlikely victory take too much out of the Braves to return to Turner Field not 13 hours later?

"It was the same for both teams," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Not exactly. Only one of them had to face Joe Blanton.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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