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Phillies 3, Marlins 1

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Joe Blanton is back on the mound and back on his game. His right elbow feels fine again.

Blanton pitched seven strong innings, Shane Victorino and Ty Wigginton homered, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat Miami 3-1 on Thursday night in the Marlins' second game without suspended manager Ozzie Guillen.

Blanton (1-1) allowed three hits and a run in his first start following an injury-plagued season. Blanton had two lengthy stints on the disabled list and pitched in only 11 games in 2011, the lowest for a full season in his career.

Blanton is often overlooked in a rotation that boasts three aces. Against the Marlins, he was as effective as he was during his first two seasons in Philadelphia.

''I wanted to get back to who I was and keep the ball down in the zone,'' Blanton said.

He did just that against the Marlins. Blanton outdueled Mark Buehrle (0-2) to help the five-time NL East champions win their second straight game and move back to .500.

The 31-year-old Blanton made only eight starts last season because of elbow problems. He was in a groove and had good command of his fastball while throwing 85 pitches against Miami. He felt strong enough to keep pitching, but manager Charlie Manuel decided to play it safe.

''It's fun just to be back out there and not have anything weighing on my mind,'' Blanton said. ''By the end of spring, I had a feeling my stuff was pretty good. I had a lot of positives coming out of spring.''

Aided by a shutdown bullpen, Blanton earned his first win since May 9, 2011, also against the Marlins.

Jonathan Papelbon took the mound in the ninth to Marilyn Manson's ''Antichrist Superstar,'' and quickly ran into trouble. But he retired John Buck on a game-ending double play for his second save.

The Marlins lost their second straight game without Guillen. He was suspended five games by the Marlins on Tuesday for saying he admired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

The Phillies know they can count on Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels to help them overcome an offense weakened by the loss of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But Vance Worley and Blanton are rotation wild cards.

Lee, Worley and Hamels are the probable pitchers for this weekend's three-game series against the improved New York Mets.

Having Blanton back in the mix as a dependable starter would bolster Philly's chances to hold off NL East teams on the rise such as the Marlins, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.

''He makes us better,'' Manuel said.

The Phillies broke through for seven runs a night earlier against the Marlins after scoring a combined eight runs over the first four games. They couldn't put together a big inning against Buehrle - but a team that became annual contenders on the back of the long ball went deep twice.

Buehrle retired the first nine batters before Victorino led off the fourth with a shot to left for Philadelphia's third home run of the season. John Mayberry Jr. added a run-scoring single later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.

The Marlins made it 2-1 when right fielder Hunter Pence misplayed Buck's low liner and couldn't come up with the ball, scoring Omar Infante.

That was it for the Marlins, who dropped to 2-5. Chad Qualls tossed a scoreless eighth, working out of a jam after Miami put runners on first and second with two outs. He caught Giancarlo Stanton looking at a 92 mph fastball to end the threat.

''There's only so long you can keep saying that it's early before you just have to start doing it,'' Stanton said. ''But it'll be good for us to get home, and get a full series in. It'll give us a chance to get comfortable there, and just start hitting. Because that's how baseball works sometimes. You're ripping them all over the place, but you're hitting them right at someone. That's been the case for us.''

Wigginton homered in the seventh to make it 3-1.

Buehrle allowed eight hits, struck out two and walked none over 6 1-3 innings.

''I was making good pitches tonight, they just hit the ball hard and a few got in there,'' he said. ''But I threw well, and I thought my location was there.''

NOTES: Former Philadelphia OF Pat Burrell will sign a one-day minor league contract and retire with the organization. Burrell will officially retire as a Phillie during the Boston Red Sox series in May at Citizens Bank Park. He'll be honored May 19 and throw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Former Marlins leadoff hitter Juan Pierre had the night off. Victorino batted first.

Tagged: Phillies, Marlins, Mark Buehrle, Ty Wigginton, John Buck, Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino

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