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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, July 22nd (All times eastern)

San Francisco Giants (53-41) at Philadelphia Phillies (41-54), 1:35 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: San Francisco - Barry Zito (8-6, 3.75) Philadelphia - Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.79)

(Sports Network) - Joe Blanton has only lost one start this season when not allowing a home run. That outing happened to come against the San Francisco Giants.

The Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander hopes that isn't the case again today as his club tries to avoid getting swept in a three-game series by the Giants for the first time in eight years.

Blanton has yielded 20 homers over his 19 outings this season, including 18 starts. He avoided a third straight setback on Monday at the Los Angeles Dodgers, hurling eight innings while allowing two runs on six hits without a walk. Blanton also struck out seven and did not give up a homer for the first time since May 8 -- a span of 12 starts.

"When I kept the ball down I had good results. I thought I threw the ball really well. I tried to throw as many strikes as I could," noted Blanton, who threw 80 of his 110 pitches for strikes.

Blanton is 4-1 in six outings this season when not allowing a homer, with that loss coming on April 17 at San Francisco. He yielded four runs on 11 hits over five innings of a 4-2 setback, with the 31-year-old dipping to 2-4 with a 5.00 ERA in eight career meetings.

Barry Zito will face the Phillies for the first time in 2012 having won two straight and three of his last four starts. The 34-year-old lefty threw seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball for the second time in that span, doing so on Tuesday in Atlanta. He walked one and fanned four in a 9-0 win.

Zito improved to 8-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 18 starts this season and is 3-3 lifetime versus Philadelphia with a 4.75 ERA in six encounters.

Zito will look to pitch the Giants to their first sweep of the Phillies since Aug. 13-15, 2004 in Philadelphia. San Francisco needed extra innings to claim yesterday's win, getting a perfectly placed safety squeeze from Gregor Blanco that plated Melky Cabrera.

Buster Posey had four hits for the Giants, who have won seven of their last eight.

Despite the two teams trotting out pitchers Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, the game unexpectedly turned into a home run derby. The Giants and Phillies combined to hit six home runs and each starter contributed a long ball.

It was the first time a pair of starters homered off each other in the same inning since Fernando Valenzuela and Kevin Gross did it on May 14, 1990.

"It certainly wasn't the type of game we thought it would be," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's not too often you see both pitchers go deep. Both teams threw out some good at-bats, both pitchers made some mistakes and paid for them."

Posey, Cabrera and Cain homered for the Giants, while Hamels, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley hit round-trippers for the Phils, who have dropped three straight.

The Giants took two of three versus the Phillies at home from April 16-18.

07/22 10:37:37 ET