06/19/07 2:00 AM ET
Blanton races to win over Reds
Righty cruises through eight innings in series opener
By Matt Smith / MLB.com
"The last couple games, the bullpen's been used a lot," Blanton said. "I tried to attack the zone a lot. My game is throwing a lot of strikes, and that naturally makes the game quicker."Blanton has gone 31 1/3 innings in his last four starts and has given up just five earned runs. He has walked just four batters and allowed only 19 baserunners over that stretch. The 26-year-old continues to be close to unbeatable when the offense gets him run support as he improved to 34-7 in 54 starts when the offense gets him more than one run. The A's opened up what was a tie game by scoring five times in the fifth inning, sending 10 men to the plate. "The guys were patient," Geren said. "They waited for their pitch. Most of the balls were up that they hit." To that point, the A's only run was unearned when Travis Buck scored on a first-inning error. Oakland loaded the bases, and with two outs, got a gift when shortstop Alex Gonzalez booted an Ellis grounder. They then started to figure out Reds starter Kyle Lohse, using four hits and three walks to knock him out of the game before the fifth ended. The big blast came when Ellis launched a three-run shot to left. Lohse had come close to limiting the damage when he got Nick Swisher on a groundout and Eric Chavez on a flyout. Those were productive outs, though, because Swisher's grounder scored Jason Kendall and Chavez's sac fly plated Buck. Jack Cust drew a walk to keep the inning alive before Ellis delivered the big blow. "That was huge," Blanton said. "It gives you some nice breathing room and you can go out and attack." "That was a big one," Geren said. "He's been taking some real good swings."
Matt Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.