CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton blanked an Atlanta Braves split squad for six innings en route to a 3-1 win on Friday.
Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer in the first to give Blanton all the offense he would need.
Philadelphia third baseman Placido Polanco was 0 for 2 with a pair of groundouts in his first game since hyperextending his left elbow March 15. He said afterward that he still wasn't 100 percent but didn't believe the injury would hold him back any longer.
Blanton, the fifth starter in Philadelphia's ace-stacked rotation, retired his first eight batters, three by strikeout, and limited Atlanta to five hits. He struck out four and didn't issue any walks.
``I feel pretty close,' said Blanton, who will have an abbreviated outing Wednesday in an exhibition game in Philadelphia before the regular season begins. ``When you have a good start it helps you mentally, gives you a little momentum heading in. Hopefully I can keep that rolling and just gradually get better as I go.'
Blanton is tentatively scheduled to make his regular-season debut April 6 against the New York Mets. He'll follow two Cy Young Award winners, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and two postseason MVPs, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
``Joe did fine,' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ``He mixed his pitches well, changed speeds good and had a pretty good cutter.'
After Braves third baseman Brandon Hicks ended the shutout bid with a one-out RBI single off Danys Baez in the seventh, the Phillies called on their two temporary closing candidates to end the game.
Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth before Jose Contreras came on in the ninth and sent the Braves down 1-2-3. Contreras struck out the last two hitters of the game to earn the save, his first of the spring.
Earlier in the day, Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced that closer Brad Lidge's right shoulder injury would prevent him from starting the season healthy, meaning the Phillies will be looking for a fill-in closer. Madson and Contreras both had experience saving games last season.
``We've used them before, they can get it done,' Manuel said, declining to say which right-hander will get the temp job.
Former Phillies pitcher Rodrigo Lopez made his latest attempt to keep a job with the Braves. Lopez gave up three runs and five hits in five innings.
In camp on a minor league contract, Lopez is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA this spring.
``I think overall I had good results,' he said. ``I was hoping to get better numbers, like less runs allowed, but it's hard sometimes to get the feel of your pitches early in camp. But I think I did everything possible to make the club.'
NOTES: Oswalt played catch and had no ill effects from getting hit with a line drive below his right ear Wednesday. Oswalt is scheduled to pitch in an exhibition game in Philadelphia against the Pittsburgh Pirates next Wednesday. ... Philadelphia 2B Luis Castillo was 1 for 2 with two walks in his third game since signing a minor league deal on Monday. Castillo was 0 for 8 with the Phillies entering the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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