For the second straight start -- and the third time in his last five outings -- Blanton will look to play the role of stopper, as the Phils enter Sunday's contest on a four-game losing streak. Blanton picked up a victory as Philadelphia snapped a season-long six-game skid in early June, and he then helped end a much briefer two-game slide in his last trip to the mound.
Overall, the Phillies have had three separate losing streaks of four-plus games this season, already matching the number of such streaks they had all of last year. Blanton will also be looking to snap a personal streak of nine straight starts in which he has allowed at least one home run.
After allowing just one long ball in his first six starts this year, Blanton has served up 17 in his last nine outings. The nine-game stretch of allowing at least one homer is the longest by a Phillies starter since Bruce Chen allowed at least one dinger in 10 straight starts from April 23-June 19, 2001.
"[Just] pitch like he always does," pitching coach Rich Dubee said when asked what Blanton needs to do against the Marlins. "Get strike one, get the ball down in the zone. A lot of his home runs have come from elevated pitches this year. When he's down, he's very, very effective."
As for the Marlins, they'll call upon right-hander Ricky Nolasco as they look to complete the three-game sweep of their National League East foe. Nolasco is coming off possibly his best start of the year, but will still be searching for his first victory since June 2.
Nolasco allowed just one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings against the Cardinals on Monday, but he was saddled with a no-decision after the Marlins' bullpen conceded four runs in the ninth inning en route to an extra-inning defeat. Overall, the righty is 0-3 in his last four outings despite turning in three quality starts in that span.
That rough stretch came during a month in which the Marlins went an NL East-worst 8-18. With the calendar flipping to July on Sunday, though, manager Ozzie Guillen is hoping his players are ready to put the disastrous June effort behind them.
"Our starting rotation is good, we got good enough talent on the field. Are we going to win every day? No, but I expect them to play good every day," Guillen said. "We missed that for 15, 20 days. Yes, we did miss that. We were not playing well. I cannot say that guy, that guy, that guy, because in general, including myself, we were terrible, because every move I was making was the wrong move. It's as simple as that."
Phillies: Pence continues to thrash Marlins
Despite a crucial ninth-inning strikeout, Hunter Pence continued to dismantle Marlins pitching Saturday afternoon.
Pence went 3-for-4 with a homer to raise his average against Miami to .500 (15-for-30) in eight games this season. He's also hit four homers and notched eight RBIs in those contests.
"Throughout the season, your swing goes through days and times when you feel good and bad and it just seems you're finding holes right," Pence said when asked if his solid numbers against Miami are just a coincidence. "I don't even know if it's any big difference, but just one of those things."
Marlins: Mujica lands on DL
Reliever Edward Mujica hopes to return in two weeks -- after a stint on the disabled list -- after fracturing his right pinky toe in Friday's victory.
Mujica was struck by a line drive off the bat of Placido Polanco, and though he remained in the game at the time, a post-game X-ray at the hospital revealed the fracture. He was in a walking boot prior to Saturday's game.
"I got hit, and right away I didn't feel my foot. I thought something happened. I had two warmup throws, and I felt it," said Mujica, who escaped the frame with an inning-ending double play. "I got out of it. I came back to the dugout, and I started feeling it."
Pence is just 5-for-23 in his career against Nolasco, but four of his five hits have gone for home runs.
The Marlins will be looking to win five straight games against the Phillies for the first time since July 22-29, 2004.