Chase Utley is making it harder and harder for manager Charlie Manuel to keep him out of the lineup.
Utley hopes to continue producing for the Phillies as they try to complete a three-game sweep of the slumping San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
Utley’s pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning lifted Philadelphia over San Francisco 10-6 on Wednesday.
“I was trying to put the ball in play, trying to make solid contact,” Utley said. “For some reason, when the ball is down, I put the barrel on it.”
The last-place Phillies have won 11 of 17 and are within one game of .500 (26-27) for the first time since April 22.
Utley has certainly made a strong case to play every day, but he platoons with Placido Polanco at second base. Utley is batting .307 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 127 at-bats. Polanco has a .295 average, one homer and 14 RBIs in 146 at-bats.
“Utley’s a run-producer,” said Manuel. “It’s just a matter of time until he plays everyday.”
The Giants have lost six straight for the first time since August 2003.
“We made bad pitches and didn’t execute,” San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said. “It seemed every ground ball they hit was a base hit.”
Alou hopes 25-year-old Brad Hennessey can cool the Phillies’ bats Thursday. Hennessey got his first win in the majors against the Phillies last Aug. 13 at Citizens Bank Park.
He was roughed up for four runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 9-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Saturday. The right-hander had a 3.66 ERA in his first three starts before falling apart against the Padres.