Joe Blanton feels no pressure to muscle his way into the discussion when it comes to Philadelphia's bevy of aces: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
"If anything, there's less (pressure). With those guys, I don't have to do anything," said a grinning Blanton after following a two-run first with three shutout innings Tuesday to help the Phillies to a 13-7 victory over Toronto in Dunedin, Fla.
"Just because you're the fifth guy, doesn't mean you're a No. 5 guy," Blanton said. "You look at different rotations, guys get thrown in different spots because of the other guys in that rotation. I mean, look at Cole. He's our No. 4 guy but he's not a No. 4 guy, if that makes any sense. If you learn one thing from each guy, that's four pretty good things."
They're not really competitive, at least not with each other, Blanton said.
"From my point of view, if I was to go out and throw seven innings (giving up) one run, two runs, whatever, I hope everybody does better than me. You just want to keep up your end. If everybody else is throwing well, it feels good to throw well."
Rajai Davis tagged Blanton for his third leadoff home run of the spring in a two-run bottom of the first.
Astros 14, Orioles 8: Brett Wallace hit a grand slam and knocked in seven runs, leading Houston over Baltimore. Wallace added two doubles and a single , powering Houston's 17-hit attack. Former Lexington Legend J.R. Towles added two hits.
The 24-year-old Wallace, looking to cement a starting spot at first base, was drafted No. 13 overall by St. Louis in 2008 out of Arizona State. He has already been traded three times.
Red Sox 2, Tigers 1 (10 innings): Saying he wants to pitch as if it were the regular season, Detroit ace Justin Verlander pitched 51⁄3 innings of one-run ball in a loss to Boston. Verlander has allowed only two earned runs in 15 innings this spring.
"I'm getting a special feeling about this season," Verlander said. "This year, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to go after hitters and act like it's April. ... I didn't do that (in previous springs)."
Cardinals 4, Braves 0: Kyle McClellan made another strong statement in his bid for St. Louis' vacant starting spot, allowing one hit in five scoreless innings against Atlanta. McClellan was a setup man the last two seasons and is expected to step in for 20-game winner Adam Wainwright, out for the season following reconstructive elbow surgery.
Royals 4, Athletics (ss) 3: If spring training is any indicator, Alex Gordon may be headed for that breakout season Kansas City has been waiting on since drafting him second overall in 2005. Gordon hit a two-run homer in the seventh and went 2-for-3 in the win over an Oakland split-squad, raising his average to .367. He also has drawn a Cactus League-leading 11 walks and has a .558 on-base percentage. Gordon, who had more at-bats with Triple-A Omaha than Kansas City last season, is 10-for-17 (.588) after a 1-for-13 start to the spring.
"Alex has got it pretty dialed in," Manager Ned Yost said. "I always had the feeling if the timing got right, look out. We're seeing a little bit of that right now."
Around the majors
Cardinals: Ace Chris Carpenter is set to return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a couple weeks. Carpenter left his March 1 spring debut in the third inning with a left hamstring strain. He's scheduled to make his second spring start Wednesday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.
Lance Berkman is scheduled to play right field on Thursday for the first time since March 1. He said he's over some left elbow soreness. Berkman hasn't played regularly in the outfield since 2004.
■ Ian Snell decided to retire at age 29 after the Cardinals optioned him to the minors. The right-hander signed a minor-league deal in January after going 0-5 with a 6.41 ERA in 12 games, eight of them starts, for the Mariners last season.
Yankees: Reliever Joba Chamberlain underwent an MRI exam for a strained muscle near his left rib cage. Manager Joe Girardi said the right-hander will not pitch for at least the next few days. "Anything dealing with an oblique, there's concern," Girardi said.
Athletics: Tests revealed Tuesday that closer Andrew Bailey has a strained forearm, news that came as a relief to the Athletics after they feared he had a serious elbow injury. There is no timetable for his return, but Bailey will resume throwing once the discomfort subsides. The A's were concerned when Bailey left Monday's game against Cleveland in the seventh inning, grabbing his right elbow after throwing a pitch to Ezequiel Carrera.
Orioles: Second baseman Brian Roberts received encouraging news from a medical test on his ailing back. Roberts, who has been sidelined with back spasms, said an MRI showed no damage. He will begin a progression that he hopes will allow him to start the April 1 opener against the Rays. "Hopefully, I've gotten the inflammation that was causing the discomfort calmed down and I now move on," Roberts said.
Nationals: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Ivan Rodriguez were scratched from the lineup with injuries that likely will sideline the All-Stars for four or five days. Rodriguez tweaked his left calf while working out before the game against the Mets. Zimmerman was pulled because of tightness in his right groin.
Indians: Grady Sizemore passed another running test and might be in the lineup by Sunday. Sizemore ran the bases for the second time in three days, 10 months after having microfracture surgery on his left knee. "If everything goes well, and it has been going extremely well, we're looking at the 20th for Grady," Manager Manny Acta said.