PHILADELPHIA -- Javier Vazquez kept his pitches down and in the strike zone. Even in a hitter-friendly park, that's a formula for success.
Vazquez pitched neatly into the eighth inning, Yunel Escobar and Brian McCann hit two-run homers and the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 on Saturday.Vazquez (3-3) allowed two runs and four hits, striking out seven in 7 2/3 innings. He had no walks and also helped himself with a double that started a three-run rally in the fifth."Anytime you win here is a good win," Vazquez said. "They score a lot of runs. You can't walk people in parks like this, and I was getting my first pitch over for strikes."Chase Utley hit his 10th homer and Raul Ibanez also went deep for the Phillies, who got another poor performance from a starting pitcher. Joe Blanton (1-3) gave up six runs and eight hits in eight innings.Blanton's shaky start was the latest in a slew of rough outings for a rotation that played a vital role in helping the Phillies win the World Series last season. Philadelphia's starters are 7-10 with a 6.47 ERA."It's one of those where you can go home and take a lot of positives out of it," Blanton said. "Ninety-eight percent of the time, if I throw the ball that well, I'm not going to give up six runs."Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was somewhat encouraged."Overall, he battled, changed speeds," Manuel said. "His mistakes got him in trouble. The ball is carrying right now."Vazquez was hitless in his first 12 at-bats this season before lining a one-out double down the left-field line in the fifth. He scored on Kelly Johnson's double. Escobar followed with a drive to the seats in left-center for a 4-1 lead.McCann, wearing glasses after missing 13 games with an eye infection, connected in the eighth to make it 6-1. McCann wore a new mask behind the plate and didn't have trouble with his glasses fogging up.Ibanez hit one into the second deck in right field in the eighth for his ninth homer.Utley is off to another strong start. The All-Star second baseman belted 21 of his career-best 33 homers in the first 59 games last year, but hit only 12 in the final 103 games. He played through a hip injury, waiting until after the season to have surgery.Jeff Francoeur lined an RBI single off the wall in left to give the Braves a 1-0 lead in the second.Vazquez bounced back from two subpar starts. He gave up 11 runs in 14 2/3 innings against St. Louis and the New York Mets, losing both games."He's really pitched well all year," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's been in every game he's started."
The Phillies fell to 0-9 when they score three runs or less. They're 15-4 when they score at least four runs. ... Francoeur has a 10-game hitting streak. ... Braves CF Jordan Schafer is hitting .161 (5 for 31) with 17 strikeouts in his last eight games. ... Chipper Jones has a 29-game hitting streak against the Phillies. ... McCann is 6 for 7 with two homers and six RBIs against Blanton. ... Vazquez improved to 11-7 against the Phillies, beating them for the first time since Aug. 23, 2003, with the Montreal Expos.