PHILADELPHIA (AP) Aggressive on the basepaths and on the mound was a winning formula for the Philadelphia Phillies
Joe Blanton threw seven effective innings, Jimmy Rollins homered for the fourth time in five games and the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-3 on Monday night.
Blanton (7-6) allowed three runs - two earned - and seven hits, striking out eight. Despite a 4.87 ERA, Blanton has more wins than Roy Halladay (4) and Cliff Lee (0) combined.
Spotted a 4-0 lead in the first, Blanton went right after hitters.
``It helps. It allows you to be more aggressive and if you make a mistake, it's OK,'' Blanton said.
Coming off a disappointing sweep in a day-night doubleheader against Tampa Bay, the last-place Phillies rebounded in the opener of a four-game series with Pittsburgh. They are 15-2 against the Pirates in their last 17 meetings at Citizens Bank Park.
But these aren't the same old Pirates. They entered the game with the best record in the NL since May 25 at 18-9 and were just one game behind Central-leading Cincinnati.
Jeff Karstens (0-2) gave up seven runs - six earned - and 11 hits in five innings in his first start since April 17. Karstens was on the disabled list with hip and shoulder issues.
``It was a matter of not locating,'' Karstens said. ``They hit some good pitches for hits and some bad pitches.''
Jose Tabata hit a solo homer for the Pirates and also made two throwing errors in the first inning.
Helped by Pittsburgh's sloppy defense, the Phillies jumped ahead with four runs in the first.
Rollins led off with a double, advanced on Juan Pierre's sacrifice and scored on Hunter Pence's looping single to right. Then it got ugly for the Pirates.
Pence hustled from first to third on Carlos Ruiz's single to right. Ruiz advanced to second on the throw to third and Pence scored when third baseman Pedro Alvarez's throw to second sailed into right for one error. Ruiz ended up on third when right fielder Tabata's throw home got away for an error.
Ruiz scored on Shane Victorino's single. Placido Polanco followed with a single to right. Victorino went to third and scored when Tabata's throw bounced away from Alvarez for another error.
``We were aggressive, they started throwing the ball around, starting making mistakes and that helped us get four runs,'' manager Charlie Manuel said.
Tabata connected off Blanton in the third for his third homer. After Polanco's RBI single for the Phillies in the bottom half, Clint Barmes hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth to cut it to 5-2.
The Phillies went ahead 7-2 in the fourth when Rollins blasted a 3-0 pitch off a billboard hanging from the second deck in right field for his eighth homer.
``He's getting his timing down and swinging pretty good,'' Manuel said.
Ruiz had three hits to raise his average to .354.
Notes: Phillies five-time All-Star 2B Chase Utley will play for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. Utley said it's a ``possibility'' he could be in the Philadelphia's lineup on Wednesday. If so, Manuel said Utley has ``earned the right'' to bat third. ... The Phillies placed C Brian Schneider on the 15-day DL with a sprained right ankle and recalled C Eric Kratz from Lehigh Valley to take his place. ... The Pirates optioned RHP Bryan Morris to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Karstens. ... Rollins made his sixth error. The three-time Gold Glove shortstop had only seven last year. ... Pirates C Rod Barajas left the game with a bone bruise in his left knee. ... The Phillies have sold out 258 straight games, including postseason. ... Philadelphia's Vance Worley (3-4, 2.78) faces Erik Bedard (4-7, 4.13) on Tuesday night.
Rob Maaddi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/RobMaaddi