Philadelphia’s Chase Utley hasn’t skipped a beat since returning from the disabled list and neither have the Phillies.
The second baseman tries to help the Phillies extend their longest winning streak of the season as they continue a three-game series with the Florida Marlins on Saturday at Dolphin Stadium.
Utley spent a month on the disabled list with a fractured right hand, but is batting 8-for-18 (.444) in four games since being activated on Monday. The All-Star, who has been hitting in the No. 2 slot since his return, had a homer and a double in first game back and drove in the winning run Thursday as the Phillies (72-62) concluded a four-game sweep of the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Utley went 2-for-3 with three RBIs on Friday to lead Philadelphia to a 9-2 win over the Marlins—its season-high sixth straight victory. He is hitting an NL-leading .341 with 88 RBIs and 18 homers.
Utley has a strong chance to boost those numbers as he is 4-for-6 with two homers and a double lifetime versus Byung-Hyun Kim, who takes the mound for Florida on Saturday.
The Phillies are outscoring opponents 50-20 during their winning streak while hitting .367. They are two games behind the Mets in the division and two behind the San Diego Padres in the wild card race.
“Every game is going to be huge down the stretch—every pitch, every at-bat,” said Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick, who allowed two runs over seven innings on Friday. “We’re in the hunt. Every game is fun. It’s awesome.”
Philadelphia is 10 games above .500 for the first time this season. The Marlins (58-77), meanwhile, have dropped 14 of their last 16 games and are trying to avoid losing their sixth straight series.
“It’s hard to play four, five, six runs down every night,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Kim (7-6, 5.44 ERA) is making his first start since rejoining the Marlins on Aug. 25. The right-hander started the year with Colorado, was traded to Florida on May 14 for reliever Jorge Julio, and made 14 appearances, including 13 starts, for the Marlins before they waived him.
Arizona claimed him off waivers on Aug. 3, but he made just two starts before getting designated for assignment. Kim has made three relief appearances since signing as a free agent with Florida, including one scoreless inning to pick up the win Tuesday in a 4-3, 11-inning victory over Atlanta.
Kim is 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 17 career games, including three starts, versus the Phillies.
J.D. Durbin (6-3, 5.14) tries to build on a strong start when he takes the mound for Philadelphia. The right-hander allowed two runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 9-2 win over the Mets on Monday.
He retired the first 12 batters, didn’t issue a walk for the first time this season and struck out a career-high six.
Durbin has won all three of his road starts while posting a 1.29 ERA. He pitched three scoreless innings against the Marlins on Aug. 7 to earn his only career save in the 11-1 victory, but will be making his first career start against them.
The Phillies are relying more heavily on their healthy starters after learning Cole Hamels’ return to the rotation will be postponed at least a week because of a lingering elbow strain. Right-hander Freddy Garcia also had season-ending shoulder surgery Thursday.
Florida left fielder Josh Willingham is day-to-day after leaving Friday’s game with a stiff back.
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