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Phillies win with homers from four players

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Chase Utley hit the first two-run shot. Ryan Howard nearly cleared two center field walls with his mammoth blast. Jimmy Rollins joined the fun when he went deep and Raul Ibanez capped the four-homer outburst with a two-run blast. The long ball has long been routine in Philadelphia. Lately, so has a standout effort from Joe Blanton. Utley, Howard, Rollins and Ibanez all hit two-run home runs to back Blanton and lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 9-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. "Joe was phenomenal," Ibanez said. "That was an unbelievable pitching performance." Blanton (7-4) is turning these low-run, deep-inning outings into the norm. He struck out six and allowed two runs over eight strong innings. Blanton has allowed two runs or less and pitched at least seven innings in five of his last six starts for the NL East leaders. Blanton has been Philadelphia's most dependable starter the last two months and put a slow start way behind him. He's lost only once since May 9 (6-1) and the Phillies are now 20-12 in Blanton's 32 starts since he was acquired from Oakland last season. "He's surprised me from the time I saw him in Oakland to coming over here," manager Charlie Manuel said. He received a huge standing ovation from another sellout crowd when he struck out Matt Holliday to end the eighth inning. Blanton fanned the side in eighth and matched his longest outing of the season. "I've put a couple of good stretches together before," Blanton said. Holliday's sacrifice fly in the first and Mark DeRosa's fourth homer of the year in the fifth were the only runs off Blanton. The burly right-hander is a big reason why the Phillies are starting to pull away toward their third straight NL East title. Acquiring Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay would go a long way toward boosting their odds at a second straight World Series championship. The Phillies are still actively pursuing the former Cy Young winner and could return from their seven-game road trip with another ace to pair with Cole Hamels in the rotation. "I think you're always looking for a horse," Manuel said. "You're always looking to get better. You always want to try and improve your team." Brad Lidge tossed a scoreless ninth. Howard had three RBIs to lift the Phillies to their 17th win in 20 games. No matter who pitches for the Phillies, the big bats are usually out. The Phillies wasted little time rocking righty starter Todd Wellemeyer (7-9). Wellemeyer continues to struggle and lasted only 5 2-3 innings when the Cardinals could have used a longer outing to give the bullpen a needed break. "He makes some pitches to show his potential, but way too many mistakes," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The linescore is the way he pitched. He made mistakes. They're an outstanding hitting club." Instead, Utley, Howard and Rollins all took him deep to build a 7-2 lead before he was yanked. Ibanez made it 9-2 in the seventh when he hit his 26th homer of the season off Blake Hawksworth. Ibanez moved into second place in the NL in homers and the Phillies lead the league with 138 homers. Utley, who hit his 22nd, was the first to go deep when he hit a full-count pitch into the first few rows in right for a 3-1 lead in the third. Howard's 25th home run ricochet off the ivy-covered brick wall in center in the fifth for a 5-2 lead. Howard also had a sacrifice fly in the first. His 433-foot shot nearly cleared the brick and onto Ashburn Alley, a fan food and entertainment area. Phillies reliever Scott Eyre got wide-eyed watching the replay in the clubhouse. "Can't get it over the wall?" he playfully chided Howard. Rollins completed the home run spurt off Wellemeyer when he added Philadelphia's third straight two-run shot in the sixth. Rollins hit a grand slam in Saturday's win, and has been sensational since he was briefly benched following a slow start. The former NL MVP is hitting .371 (33 for 89) since snapping his career-worst 0 for 28 streak.

Notes

The Cardinals recalled Hawksworth from Triple-A Memphis before the game and optioned reliever Josh Kinney to Triple-A. ... Phillies RHP Pedro Martinez made his first rehab start for the Phillies at Class-A Clearwater on Sunday. The three-time Cy Young Award winner signed a one-year contract this month after sitting out the first half of the season.
Tagged: Phillies, Cardinals

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