,PHILADELPHIA -- For the second straight season, the Phillies reached out and found an effective left-handed reliever in the middle of the season.
A year after signing recently-released J.C. Romero from the Red Sox, the Phillies scrapped Scott Eyre away from the Cubs. Eyre, who sported a 7.15 ERA in 19 games with the Cubs, was designated for assignment by the Cubs on August 5.
Two days later, the Phillies sent Class-A right-hander Brian Schlitter to Chicago in exchange for Eyre. The 36-year-old lefty is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the Phils.
"We thought he could help us," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He's still got a pretty good arm from the left side, and he's got experience. I had lunch with Scottie when we tried to sign him when the Cubs signed him (in the winter of 2005). Fortunately we got him when we did; he's been very important for us."
Eyre showed off his stuff -- and manager Charlie Manuel showed his confidence in the left-hander -- in the first game against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday. With the game knotted 3-3 and two outs in the eighth, Eyre took over for Ryan Madson.
He struck out Ray Durham, who had homered earlier in the game. After the Phillies scored four times in the bottom half of the inning, Eyre stayed in to face Prince Fielder.
Eyre got the Brewers power-hitting threat to ground out to record the first out of the ninth before giving way to Brad Lidge.
"I worked my way into some better situations. The first day I got here, I said I didn't care when it is I get to go out there and help us win," said Eyre, who has pitched shutout baseball in 13 of his 14 games with the Phillies. "I love pitching and I love being out there. It's more fun when the game is on the line."
Eyre, a free agent at the end of the season, also said he'd be happy to return to the Phillies in 2009, even if he had to sign a one-year deal.
"I'd be happy with that... I want to play next year for sure," said Eyre, who said he won't think about free agency until the season ends. "Hopefully it will be in late October."
Joe Blanton got back on track Sunday and apparently it's related to his newfound health.
Following Sunday's 7-3 win in the first game against the Brewers, Dubee said Blanton was recovering from a bout of tendonitis. Before Sunday, Blanton hadn't pitched more than five innings in four of his last six starts.
"He went through a little biceps tendonitis," Dubee said. "He wasn't feeling right and wasn't able to get the ball in the right arm slot."
Blanton shook off a pair of home runs -- a two-run shot in the first inning to Ray Durham and a solo bomb to Mike Cameron in the fifth -- to give the Phils his first quality outing since Aug. 24. The 27-year-old, acquired in a trade with Oakland in July, allowed five hits in seven innings.
"He hung in there," Dubee said. "He made a couple bad pitches in the first inning, but he hung in there and got in a good groove."
Added Blanton: "I put in a lot of work between my last start and this start trying to get mechanically sound and right."
The Phillies will continue to run Blanton, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels to the mound for the final two weeks of the season. But in two of their remaining 12 games -- on Sept 17 and 22nd, both against the Braves -- they'll need another pitcher.
Moyer is scheduled to pitch when the Phillies begin a three-game series in Atlanta on Tuesday. Hamels will likely go Thursday.
What about Tuesday?
"I don't know," Dubee said in between games Sunday. "We're in no hurry for Wednesday. We have to play Tuesday first."
The three candidates appear to be Kyle Kendrick, Adam Eaton and J.A. Happ. Kendrick, 1-4 with an 11.35 ERA in his last six starts, may be the most unlikely of the trio.
Eaton hasn't made a major league start since July 12 an didn't exactly excite the Phillies with his seven starts in the minor leagues. The beleaguered right-hander was 0-5 with a 7.02 ERA after accepting the minor league assignment.
The process of elimination leaves Happ, who gave the Phils two steady starts while filling in for Myers in early July. The 25-year-old left-hander was 0-0 with a 3.27 ERA in those starts.
Happ, however, went 1-1 with a 8.49 ERA in his last three starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in August.