Utley solves Lincecum, Phillies on verge of sweep of Giants

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Chase Utley hadn't had much success against San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum in his career, so he simplified his approach Tuesday night.
Get a fastball strike, send it right back at Lincecum even faster.
It worked twice in the Philadelphia Phillies' second consecutive 6-2 road win over the Giants, with Utley contributing singles to uprisings in the first and second innings.
And when Lincecum mixed things up in the fourth, literally throwing a curve, so did Utley, pounding the slower pitch upward of 400 feet into the right-field pavilion, sending the Phillies and Kyle Kendrick to a one-sided victory.
"I've chased a lot of his balls in the past," Utley said of his history against Lincecum, which wasn't pretty -- 5-for-30 (.167) with 12 strikeouts. "I tried to get him in the strike zone a little more."
The Phillies, who began the season 9-14, will go for their second series sweep in the past two weeks when Jonathan Pettibone opposes the Giants' Barry Zito in a Wednesday afternoon affair.
Utley set the tone for a hard-hitting Phillies attack when, as the second batter of the game, he smacked a one-hop shot off the back of the upper-right thigh of Lincecum (2-2) for an infield hit. He eventually scored the visitors' first run on a Ryan Howard single.
Utley then was on the run-producing end of a two-run second inning, sizzling a single right past Lincecum's ear that scored Ben Revere with two outs after a Jimmy Rollins sacrifice had made it 2-0 one batter earlier.
The Giants got those two runs back against Kendrick (4-1), the Phillies starter, in a three-hit third inning, but Utley's bomb just to the right of the 421-foot mark in the fourth and an RBI double by Michael Young in the sixth pushed Philadelphia closer to its seventh win in the last 10 games at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
The home run was Utley's seventh of the season. The two RBIs increased his team-leading total to 23.
"Nothing different. I was just looking for a strike," Utley said of his mindset the third time around against Lincecum. "I just tried to put a good swing on it. I squared it up pretty good, but you never know here."
Howard capped the scoring at 6-2 with a two-out homer in the ninth, his sixth, the Phillies' 12th consecutive solo shot.
"We played two solid games," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of the carbon-copy wins. "Everything is pretty good."
The loss dropped the Giants out of first place in the National League West.
Kendrick, who retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced, was pulled after seven innings, having held the Giants to two runs on six hits. He did not walk a batter for the first time in seven starts and struck out a season-best six.
"He mixes it up well," assessed Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had two of the Giants' seven hits after having been in a 2-for-32 slump. "He keeps you guessing."
Mike Adams pitched a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon closed it out in a nonsave situation in the ninth, easily protecting the four-run lead.
Lincecum, who was coming off a five-inning, 10-hit outing in a no-decision at Arizona, was touched for nine hits and five runs in a season-high seven innings. He struck out seven and walked three.
Kendrick hadn't allowed a run on the road all season in 16 innings against the Reds and Mets until the Giants used doubles by Crawford and Marco Scutaro to piece together their two-run third inning.
But the right-hander shut off the faucet by stranding Scutaro at second.
He also pitched out of a jam in the next inning before settling into a nice rhythm.
Scutaro extended his hitting streak to seven games with a double and a single for the Giants, who will be looking to avoid getting swept by a third opponent Wednesday. They've also swept four of their first 10 foes.
"I heard that after the last series when we swept the Dodgers," Crawford said of the Giants' swept-or-be-swept trend this season. "It's kinda weird because I don't think we're a streaky team.
"We'll try to do something about that (Wednesday)."
NOTES: Phillies ace Roy Halladay was examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with the club anxiously awaiting the results. His shoulder ailment is being labeled as inflammation pending further diagnosis. Halladay, who is on the disabled list, rejoined the team during the game, but no test results will be announced until Wednesday. ... When the Giants' third inning ended with Scutaro on second base, it marked the first time since the seventh inning Sunday that the club had left a runner stranded. That included the entire game Monday night -- the third time that's happened in the majors this season. ... Upon his belated return from Venezuela, the Giants activated left-handed reliever Jose Mijares from the bereavement list Tuesday, optioning right-hander reliever Jean Machi to Triple-A Fresno. ... The Giants formally appealed an official scorer's call in Monday's game, claiming an infield single credited to Phillies catcher Erik Kratz should in fact have been an error on Scutaro. If the change is made -- the commissioner's office usually acts upon such appeals within a week -- three of the five runs charged to Giants starter Madison Bumgarner in the game would be unearned and his ERA would drop from 2.31 to 1.74.

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