Phillies turn to Blanton in Game 4

Joe Blanton walked into Citizens Bank Park on Friday and got some news from manager Charlie Manuel. For the second straight year, he's starting Game 4 of the World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Manuel decided Game 1 winner Cliff Lee will pitch Game 5 on a full four days’ rest Monday. If he pitched on Sunday, Lee would have been starting on short rest for the first time during his major league career.

“I think you’re taking a chance on really pushing him,” Manuel said. “Definitely we don’t want to hurt him.”

The World Series was tied 1-all as it shifted to Philadelphia for Game 3 tonight. Manuel said if the Series goes seven games, Lee could be available for the finale.

“That would be on his bullpen day, and he might be able to pitch,” the manager said.

Manuel also could have started left-hander J.A. Happ in Game 4, but the rookie will remain in a relief role.

“I think Blanton fits for us because I think we want to keep Happ right now in the bullpen, especially kind of in the middle where he could do some innings,” Manuel said. “And also, Joe pitched last year in the World Series, and he’s got a little bit more experience.”

Lee, who allowed only an unearned run in the opener while pitching a six-hitter, said he would have started Game 4 if asked, but he made it clear he’s a creature of routine.

“I like going every five days. To me the off-days kind of throw your routine off a little bit, so you’ve got to make those adjustments,” he said.

Blanton started Game 4 against Tampa Bay last year and combined with four relievers on a five-hitter in a 10-2 win that gave the Phillies a 3-1 Series lead. Blanton also homered off Edwin Jackson, the first Series home run by a pitcher since Oakland’s Ken Holtzman in 1974.

“That’s just luck. Maybe I’ll get lucky again,” Blanton said. “But the odds of lightning striking twice are probably not very good.”

Giants sign Sanchez

Freddy Sanchez has signed a $12 million, two-year contract extension Friday with the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants held an $8.1 million option for 2010 for the three-time All-Star second baseman. Sanchez, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on July 29 in exchange for a minor league pitcher, will make $6 million in each year of the new deal.

He hit .293 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 111 games for the two teams this season.

Short hops

The Houston Astros added several coaches to new manager Brad Mills’ staff, hiring Brad Arnsberg as pitching coach, promoting Al Pedrique to bench coach and adding Bobby Meacham as first-base coach. The team also declined the 2010 option on reliever Doug Brocail and re-signed third baseman Geoff Blum to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. … Toronto manager Cito Gaston has signed a four-year consulting contract with the Blue Jays that will begin when his managerial deal expires at the end of the 2010 season.