(Reuters) - Carlos Ruiz drove in three runs to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, lifting the NL East champions to within a game of the .500 mark after a stuttering start to the season.
An effective Joe Blanton got the win, striking out eight in seven plus innings and giving up eight hits and two run as the Phillies improved to 10-11 with the home triumph.
“I felt I had a good curve and my slider was pretty good out of the gate,” Blanton told reporters. “What made those pitches decent was I was able to locate my fastball better than I had the last couple of games.”
The Phillies, hitless for the first three innings against Cubs right-hander Randy Wells, broke loose for three hits and four runs in the fourth.
Hunter Pence doubled, Jim Thome walked and after a force out, Laynce Nix walked to load the bases for Ruiz, and the Phillies catcher brought two of his team mates home with a single to center to put Philadelphia 2-1 ahead.
“It was a big inning for us. I was looking for a good pitch to hit, and everything started out there,” Ruiz said.
Jimmy Rollins, back in his familiar top spot in the batting order, added a bases loaded, two-run double.
“It’s too bad... he was pitching pretty well,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Wells. “Then he just couldn’t find the strike zone. He couldn’t even find it against Blanton (who walked).”
Ruiz collected the Phillies’ final run on a solo homer in the sixth after Thome had left the game in the fifth with tightness in his lower back. He is listed as day-to-day.
The visiting Cubs scored in the first and eighth.
Reporting By Gene Cherry in Salvo North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien