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05/20/09 10:43 PM ET

Phillies expect Blanton to turn it around

Philadelphia (21-17) at Cincinnati (21-18), 12:35 p.m. ET

CINCINNATI -- Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton has been here before, and that is why the club doesn't seem terribly concerned about him.

They think he will be fine.

Blanton went 2-6 with a 6.75 ERA in his last eight starts with the A's before they traded him to the Phillies last July. He went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 starts with the Phils. On top of that, he went 2-0 in the postseason, including hitting a memorable home run in Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park.

But Blanton enters Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Reds at Great American Ball Park at 1-3 with a 6.86 ERA after seven starts. That was the fifth highest ERA in baseball entering Wednesday. His .305 opponents average ranked 10th in baseball.

"He's run into some spots over the course of the game where he's just not commanding his fastball," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It's causing him some problems. His command starts running away from him, and it makes things difficult for him."

Blanton allowed four runs in the third inning Friday in a 10-6 victory in 12 innings over the Nationals. The inning included a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk.

The Phillies hope Blanton's command improves before they begin an Interleague series against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

Pitching matchup
PHI: RHP Joe Blanton (1-3, 6.86 ERA)
With a doubleheader coming up the next day, Blanton gave the Phillies what they needed most in his start on Friday: five solid innings that kept them in the game long enough for to rally for the late victory. Admittedly, it wasn't pretty. Against Washington, Blanton allowed four runs on five hits and walked six, one intentionally, while striking out five and raising his ERA to 6.86. But he only stumbled in one inning, giving up all four runs in that frame.

CIN: RHP Micah Owings (3-4, 3.95 ERA)
Owings made an extended emergency relief appearance in the Reds' 16-inning loss to Arizona on Saturday, allowing just one run -- albeit the game-winner -- on three hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. Before that, his last start was likely his best of the season, as he gave up one earned run and four hits during a 3-1 win over the D-backs. The righty, who took a shutout into the eighth, walked two, hit a batter and struck out four while throwing only 90 pitches. He also went 0-for-3 at the plate and fouled a ball off his right knee.

The Phillies claimed right-hander Steven Register off waivers from the Rockies. He has been optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Register, 26, went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA and six saves in 16 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs this season. He had a 9.00 ERA in 10 appearances last season for the Rockies. He led the Minor Leagues with 37 saves for Double-A Tulsa in 2007. Register is 25-36 with a 4.49 ERA and 59 saves in 201 career games in the Minors. ... Entering Wednesday, the Phils have scored 41.2 percent of their 211 runs via home run. That is the third-highest percentage in the Majors behind the Yankees (46.3 percent) and Rangers (45 percent).

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Up next
• Friday: Phillies (Brett Myers, 3-2, 4.50) at Yankees (A.J. Burnett, 2-1, 5.02), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Phillies (J.A. Happ, 2-0, 2.49) at Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 4-1, 4.18), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Phillies (Cole Hamels, 2-2, 4.95) at Yankees (CC Sabathia, 4-3, 3.43), 1:05 p.m. ET

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.