PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez all hit two-run home runs to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 9-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Joe Blanton (7-4) had another effective outing, allowing two runs and he struck out six over eight innings. Blanton has allowed two runs or less and pitched at least seven innings in five of his last six starts for the NL East leaders.
Howard had three RBIs to lift the Phillies to their 17th win in 20 games.
Mark DeRosa hit a solo homer for the Cardinals, who dropped two of three in a matchup of division leaders.
Blanton has been Philadelphia's most dependable starter the last two months and put a slow start way behind him. He's lost only once since May 9 (6-1) and the Phillies are now 20-12 in Blanton's 32 starts since he was acquired from Oakland last season.
He received a huge standing ovation from another sellout crowd when he struck out Matt Holliday to end the eighth inning. It matched his longest outing of the season.
Holiday's sacrifice fly in the first and DeRosa's fourth homer of the year in the fifth were the only runs off Blanton.
The burly right-hander is a big reason why the Phillies are starting to pull away toward their third straight NL East title. Acquiring Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay would go a long way toward boosting their odds at a second straight World Series championship.
The Phillies are still actively pursuing the former Cy Young winner and could return from their seven-game road trip with another ace to pair with Cole Hamels in the rotation.
Brad Lidge tossed a scoreless ninth.
No matter who pitches for the Phillies, the big bats are usually out.
The Phillies wasted little time rocking righty starter Todd Wellemeyer (7-9). Wellemeyer continues to struggle and lasted only 5 2-3 innings when the Cardinals could have used a longer outing to give the bullpen a needed break.
Instead, Utley, Howard and Rollins all took him deep to build a 7-2 lead before he was yanked in the sixth.
Ibanez made it 9-2 in the seventh when he hit his 26th homer of the season off Blake Hawksworth. Ibanez moved into second place in the NL in homers and the Phillies lead the league with 138 homers.
Utley, who hit his 22nd, was the first to go deep when he hit a full-count pitch into the first few rows in right for a 3-1 lead in the third.
Howard's 25th home run ricochet off the ivy-covered brick wall in center in the fifth for a 5-2 lead. Howard also had a sacrifice fly in the first.
Rollins completed the home run spurt off Wellemeyer when he added Philadelphia's third straight two-run shot in the sixth. Rollins hit a grand slam in Saturday's win, and has been sensational since he was briefly benched following a slow start.
The former NL MVP is 33 for 89 since snapping his career-worst 0 for 28 streak.
NOTES: The Cardinals recalled Hawksworth from Triple-A Memphis before the game and optioned reliever Josh Kinney to Triple-A. ... Phillies RHP Pedro Martinez made his first rehab start for the Phillies at Class-A Clearwater on Sunday. The three-time Cy Young Award winner signed a one-year contract this month after sitting out the first half of the season. ... Phillies minor league prospect Dominic Brown, mentioned in trade speculation involving Halladay, is trying to take the situation in stride. "Just stay humble," Brown, the starting right fielder for Class-A Clearwater, said on Sunday. The 21-year old is not monitoring the latest rumors on TV or the internet. "I try to stay away from Facebook and all of that," he said.
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