The question now for Manuel is this: When will he feel comfortable playing Utley and Howard in three straight games?
Neither Utley nor Howard has started more than two games in a row since returning from the disabled list. With lefthander Clayton Kershaw, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner, scheduled to pitch the series finale Wednesday afternoon, it might be a good time to rest them again.
Manuel has said recently that he intends to "cut loose" with Utley and Howard at some point in the near future, but he would not reveal whether that would happen Wednesday.
"I'll do something," Manuel said.
And what will that be?
"I don't know," he said.
Will Kershaw have an impact on the decision?
"It could have," Manuel said.
Utley is 4 for 17 with two doubles, a home run, and three walks against Kershaw. Howard is 3 for 14 with two doubles and six walks.
Because he has been back for a longer period, it would seem more likely that Utley plays while Howard sits in the series finale.
"We definitely still have to watch Utley," Manuel said. "We don't want to set him back. He has come a long ways. At the same time, we want to leave him in there."
The Phillies are off Thursday, but they have a cross-country flight back to Philadelphia after Wednesday's game.
"The travel gets you," Manuel said. "Travel is definitely not good for his knees and stuff."
Extra bases. Cliff Lee (1-6, 3.92) will pitch for the Phillies in the series finale Wednesday. He is coming off a loss to the Colorado Rockies. . . . Kershaw is 0-4 with a 4.95 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies, who are one of three teams he has never beaten. The other two are Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org
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