LOS ANGELES (AP)—Despite his 6-1, 185-pound frame, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley can hit for power consistently. He can also pack a mean wallop in other ways as rookie catcher Russell Martin found out.
Utley hit his 11th homer of the season, doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth and bowled over Martin to score another run later that inning, leading the Phillies to a 6-4 victory on Sunday.
“Chase doesn’t have the size, but he has the pop,” said leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins, who doubled twice and scored twice to help the Phils salvage a split of the four-game series.
Utley hit 28 home runs last season, tying Juan Samuel’s franchise record for homers by a second baseman.
“He’s perfect for this lineup,” Rollins said. “He starts the power threat early, so you don’t have to wait until you get to the 3-4-5-6 hitters for somebody to drive the ball out of the yard. Once you get past me, you’ve got to be careful of the next five batters, actually.”
Joe Beimel (2-1) took the loss after Rollins and Utley greeted him with doubles to open the Phillies’ three-run eighth. Utley crashed into Martin to score the fifth run after first baseman Olmedo Saenz charged Ryan Howard’s slow bouncer and tried for the out at home plate. Bobby Abreu scored on another fielder’s choice grounder by David Bell.
“I saw the play again on video, and Utley was already committed to hitting me,” Martin said. “He probably made up his mind about 15 feet away from home plate that there was going to be some contact. The throw just took me off line a little bit, so it probably looked bad when it happened. But it’s not that big a deal. That’s baseball. You’re supposed to play hard.”
Two batters later, reliever Hong-Chih Kuo plunked pinch-hitter Shane Victorino with his first pitch since being recalled from Triple-A. But Victorino and manager Charlie Manuel absolved Kuo of any wrongful intent.
“I never thought it was intentional at any point. But if it was a retaliation, what can I say? That’s how the game goes,” Victorino said. “I thought Chase’s play at home was clean. He was just trying to score that run, and he didn’t go out of his way to get the catcher. Russell was at the plate, Chase came in hard, and that’s how you play this game.”
Dodger manager Grady Little was Manuel’s bench coach when they were with the Cleveland Indians a few years ago, so Manuel knows Little doesn’t operate that way.
“If that guy hit him intentionally, he hit him on his own. I know he wasn’t told to hit him,” Manuel said. “I think (Kuo) just tried to keep the ball inside on Victorino because he’s small. He wanted to jam him, and instead he hit him. I give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Brett Myers entered the seventh with a 3-2 lead after David Dellucci’s RBI double off Aaron Sele put the Phillies ahead in the top of the inning. But Myers walked Martin and rookie Andre Ethier with two out, and Kenny Lofton greeted Rheal Cormier with an RBI single to tie it.
The Dodgers loaded the bases later that inning, but rookie Matt Kemp—who homered in each of the previous three games—was tagged out by Geary halfway up the first base line on a checked-swing dribbler.
Myers was charged with three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, and has not allowed more than three earned runs in his last 15 starts overall.
Sele allowed three runs and six hits in six-plus innings. The right-hander did not walk a batter and recorded four of his six strikeouts on called third strikes.
“They took a couple of good swings off him, but he was out there competing and was pretty consistent with all his pitches,” Martin said. “I expect that from him every time he goes out there.”
After falling behind 2-0 on Utley’s solo homer in the third, Sele retired his next 11 batters before Aaron Rowand snapped the string with a leadoff double in the seventh. Dellucci, starting in left field with Pat Burrell getting the day off, followed with an RBI double that chased Sele and put the Phillies ahead 3-2.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the sixth on Lofton’s single and infield hits by Ramon Martinez and Kemp. Lofton scored on a double-play grounder to short by J.D. Drew, tying the score at 2-all.
The Dodgers had the leadoff batter on base in three of the first four innings, but Myers got the next batter to ground into a double play all three times.
Two of those double-play grounders came off the bat of Martinez, who started at shortstop while Rafael Furcal got the day off. The other was by Saenz, who started at first while .369-hitting Nomar Garciaparra got the day off.
Lofton, who made his mark as one of baseball’s premier leadoff hitters, was 3-for-5 in the one hole while Rafael Furcal had the day off. The Dodgers are 0-4 with Lofton batting leadoff.