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PHI@ATL: Blanton goes the distance, shuts out Braves

When the Braves play the Phillies on Saturday for the second installment of a three-game series, they hope to see a different Joe Blanton.

Blanton needed only two hours and two minutes in a complete-game shutout of Atlanta on May 3. He allowed just three hits and didn't walk a batter, calling it one of the best games of his career.

It was Blanton's first complete game in more than five years, though he threw a second against Minnesota on June 14.

"He pitched as well as I've ever seen him," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "We couldn't get anything going."

Atlanta's best bet to get to Blanton this time may be the long ball. The right-hander's 19 home runs allowed were tied for fifth-most in the Majors as of Friday, and the issue again plagued Blanton in his most recent start. One of the three runs he allowed to the Marlins in Philadelphia's 5-2 loss on Sunday came via the home run.

The Braves are also hoping for a different performance from Tommy Hanson than the one he turned in during his only previous start against the Phillies this season. Hanson allowed four runs on eight hits in only 3 2/3 innings on May 2, though Philadelphia managed a wild 15-13 win.

Hanson has been more reliable of late, going 4-0 in June with a 3.13 ERA, but a troublesome seventh inning against the Cubs on Monday brought his winning streak to an end at four. Hanson gave up one run in his first six innings before allowing a three-run seventh.

"It's frustrating," Hanson said. "It's not like I went out there and got beat up. I felt like I had my good stuff and it just came down to that one inning. Those are the frustrating games and the ones that are tough to swallow."

Braves: Uggla slotted in seven-hole
• Manager Fredi Gonzalez's placement of Dan Uggla in the seventh spot of Atlanta's lineup on Friday didn't immediately solve Uggla's recent woes. The second baseman went 0-for-3.

But Gonzalez used the exact same approach last year, hitting Uggla seventh on July 5-6, 2011. The July 5 game marked the beginning of his Braves-record 33-game hit streak.

Gonzalez didn't even remember he performed the same ploy until a reporter reminded him on Friday.

"Why didn't you guys tell me that yesterday so I could have batted him seventh on July 5 again?" Gonzalez said.

• Outfielder Martin Prado's hit streak came to an end at 11 games on Friday as he went 0-for-4. Prado was hitting .385 (15-for-39) during the streak.

• Left-hander Luis Avilan was recalled from Triple-A on Thursday as Atlanta placed Jonny Venters on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow impingement.

Phillies: Howard likely to sit Saturday
• Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with a double on Friday in his first game for Philadelphia in 2012, but manager Charlie Manuel will likely sit Howard on Saturday before starting him again on Sunday to try to ease him back into action.

Howard had been on the 15-day disabled list since the start of the season after he underwent left Achilles surgery on Oct. 12. The Phillies are hoping for a big boost from Howard and the also recently returned Chase Utley.

"By getting those two guys back, it's definitely going to create more offense for us," Manuel said. "And hopefully that'll bring that part where we can get back and kind of be the resilient team that we used to be and we can play better baseball."

• Backup catcher Brian Schneider expects to return from a sprained right ankle shortly after the All-Star break. Schneider has been on the disabled list since June 25. Within the next few days, he hopes to catch his first bullpen session since the injury.

"I'd really love to be able to meet the team in Colorado [on July 13]," he said. "Will that happen? I don't know. Maybe a couple days later.

"I don't think everyone realizes how much, when you're hurt, you want to get back on the field."

Worth noting
• Philadelphia is 39-35 all-time against Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have still won 16 of their last 26 home games against the Braves despite Friday's loss.

• The Phillies' 6-5 loss to the Mets on Thursday was their first of the season in a game they led after eight innings. They were 35-0. Comments