Utley looks to continue his surge versus the Rockies on Sunday when the Phillies try to capture a three-game series at Coors Field.
When Philadelphia (2-3) was swept by Colorado two seasons ago in the playoffs, it managed only eight runs. Utley was considered one of the culprits for the Phillies, going 2-for-11 with no runs scored and no RBIs.
The second baseman has been outstanding against the Rockies since that postseason. He’s 13-for-29 (.448) in seven games with eight runs scored and 14 RBIs, including 4-for-7 in this set.
The Phillies have won six of seven from the Rockies since the 2007 playoffs. Their five-game winning streak over Colorado (3-2) ended with a 10-3 loss Friday before they bounced back with an 8-4 win Saturday.
Utley’s 2-for-4 effort Saturday improved his average to .444 (8-for-18) this year. Ryan Howard had a three-run double in the third inning and Jayson Werth snapped a 3-3 tie two innings later with a two-run triple.
“We’ve been kind of slow getting runs, myself especially,” said Howard. “But to be able to get that hit to get us going, to get us jump-started, it was a good thing.”
Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer and Garrett Atkins and Clint Barmes added solo shots for all of Colorado’s runs. The Rockies only had four hits, including Brad Hawpe’s single in the second inning in front of Tulowitzki’s homer.
Utley has enjoyed some timely hitting against Rockies starter Aaron Cook (0-0, 23.14 ERA), going 6-for-17 with 10 career RBIs - the most any player has against Cook.
The right-hander will try to bounce back from a rough start on opening day. He lasted 2 1-3 innings and was tagged for six runs Monday in a 9-8 loss at Arizona.
“I was up in the zone,” Cook said. “The sinker was flat and you saw what happened, just not a normal day for me and Webby (Arizona’s Brandon Webb), either.”
Cook will be making his first start of the year at home, where he went 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA in his last six outings of 2008. He is 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA against Philadelphia in six career starts.
Chan Ho Park (0-0, 0.00), meanwhile, will make his first start of the season for the Phillies. Park pitched a hitless inning of relief Tuesday in a 4-0 loss to Atlanta.
The veteran right-hander has made only six starts since the end of the 2006 season, going 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA. He has a 3.79 ERA over 50 relief appearances in the same span.
One thing Park has proven he can do is provide innings as a starter in the thin air at Coors Field. He is 5-2 with a 5.92 ERA in eight career starts in Denver, pitching seven innings three times and always lasting at least five.