Utley gets back in the swing

Posted: August 28, 2007

The hand is fine. The swing? It's still there.

Chase Utley returned to the Phillies' lineup last night for the first time since he broke his right hand July 26. He went 3 for 5 with a double, a homer and two RBIs in a 9-2 victory over the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park, as the Phils moved to within five games of the Mets in the National League East.

"Chase coming out with a bang like he did tonight, people are probably going to be worried," Ryan Howard said. "When you get one of your big bats back in the lineup, I think it's definitely going to present a presence in the lineup and it's definitely going to make that other team have to think about the way they're going to have to go after people."

Utley had missed 28 games. The Phillies went 15-13 without him, but they're certainly glad to have him back. They entered last night having lost six of their previous eight games and need to pull out of their nosedive immediately to have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Utley hit a solo home run to left-center field in the fifth to hand the Phillies a 4-2 lead.

"Tonight was one night," Utley said. "You never know what can happen. You can find a hole here or there. The main thing is to contribute to the team. It turned out pretty well. It felt good. It definitely was good to be out there."

"I knew that when he started to swing the bat that he would hit a lot," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He doesn't try to overdo it. Where he hit the ball on the homer and double tonight, he hit the ball to the left of center field. If you look where the balls were at, he just went right with it. He hit the ball where it was pitched."

But Utley wasn't the only star.

Jayson Werth went 4 for 4 with a walk after he went 5 for 5 Sunday. He needs a hit in his first at-bat tonight to tie a National League record with hits in 10 consecutive at-bats. The record is held by 10 players, including Ed Delahanty, who accomplished the feat for the Phillies in 1897.

Teammates have had some fun with Werth and Shane Victorino, who typically is in right field.

Somebody taped "P. Rose" over Werth's name at his locker.

Somebody taped "W. Pipp" over Victorino's name.

"I'm just playing the day out as it goes on," Werth said. "I'm still living life."

Werth said he was not aware of the record. He said he didn't want to know.

We can't forget about J.D. Durbin, either. He entered last night with a 1.29 ERA in three road starts and an 8.62 ERA in three home starts.

But he overcame his home struggles. He had a perfect game through four innings before Carlos Beltran hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning. Two runs eventually scored, but in 61/3 innings he limited the Mets to six hits, two runs and no walks. He also struck out a career-high six batters.

He is 5-2 with a 4.22 ERA in seven starts for the Phillies.

"Just getting ahead of guys," Durbin said. "I made them hit the pitches I wanted [them] to hit. My slider was so much better today. I was able to throw it in every situation again."

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Greg Dobbs scored on Werth's one-out double into the left-field corner. They took a 3-0 lead in the third inning when Pat Burrell hit a two-run home run to left.

Utley, Werth, Burrell, Howard, Dobbs and Jimmy Rollins each had at least two hits. Tadahito Iguchi added a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the seventh inning.

Manuel said Werth will be in the lineup tonight.

So will Utley.

"I was wondering when his swing would come back," Howard joked. "Nah, it's great. It's like he never missed a beat."


Werth (9 for 9) Nears Record

Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth has nine hits in his last nine at-bats, which puts him one hit away from tying the National League record for hits in consecutive at-bats. Werth went 4 for 4 with a walk in last night's 9-2 victory against the New York Mets. He went 5 for 5 Sunday against the San Diego Padres.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 10 players have accomplished the feat: Ed Delahanty, Kiki Cuyler, Chick Hafey, Joe Medwick, Matt Diaz, Bip Roberts, Woody Williams, Buddy Hassett, Ed Konetchy and Jake Gettman.

The major-league record for hits in consecutive at-bats is 12, held by two American League players, Pinky Higgins and Walt Dropo.

The Phillies' franchise record is 10 by Delahanty, who accomplished his streak in 1897.

Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino had hits in seven consecutive at-bats on May 11-13 last season.

- Todd Zolecki


 

To see a photo gallery of last night's game, go to .


Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.

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