04/02/12 9:39 PM ET
Blanton in good form in final spring tuneup
By Jay Greenberg / Special to MLB.com
"Missing a big chunk of last year makes you feel better to go out to the mound again," Blanton said after retiring the first 10 Pirates batters Monday in the Phillies' 4-3 win. "You have a different sense about yourself, a little extra pep in your step in appreciation of being healthy."
The Phillies broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh when Freddy Galvis -- who will be the starting second baseman in the absence of Chase Utley on Opening Day in Pittsburgh on Thursday -- tripled off right-hander Ryan Beckman to score Ty Wigginton. Blanton, the No. 5 in the Philadelphia rotation, tuned up well for his first regular season start, which likely won't come until April 13.
He can easily wait that long if the elbow problems that abbreviated his 2011 season are behind him.
"Last year I was already starting to feel it at this time," Blanton said. "This year I don't feel anything at all.
"My velocity is decent. I'm throwing all pitches with full intensity. My last Spring Training start, I lost my changeup a little bit. That's a big pitch for me, and luckily I found it in one bullpen."
Blanton was perfect until Jose Tabata's soft single started a two-run rally in the fourth. Tabata stole second and scored on Neil Walker's single to right. Walker, who moved up to second when Hunter Pence's throw to the plate got away from Carlos Ruiz, scored on Garrett Jones' double.
The Pirates, who will close the exhibition season with James McDonald on the mound Tuesday night, used seven different relievers. Tony Watson, competing with Daniel Moskos for what could be just one lefty slot out of the bullpen, saw action, along with Juan Cruz, Evan Meek and Beckman, who is headed for Double-A Altoona. All gave up runs, although Watson was not helped when outfielder Juan Pierre's leadoff bloop fell out of the lunging Alex Presley's glove.
Pierre scored on Jimmy Rollins' sacrifice fly, and crossed the plate again on a double by Rollins, who was thrown out at third on Walker's relay from Tabata.
Andrew McCutchen's home run in the sixth tied the game. The long ball was the outfielder's fourth of the spring.
Up next: The teams wrap up their two-game exhibition series Tuesday at 7:05 p.m ET at Citizens Bank Park before opening the regular season Thursday at PNC Park. Cole Hamels, who's submitted a solid spring (3.42 ERA), will face the Pirates' James McDonald (9.16 ERA) in both pitchers' final action before the games that count.
Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.