PHILADELPHIA (AP) Chase Utley is feeling healthy and his bat certainly isn’t hurting, either.
Utley extended his hot start with the tiebreaking homer among three hits, sparking the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Utley raised his average to .500 through 10 games, with six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs. The five-time All-Star, who missed two games with the flu, has a hit in each of his games this season.
Knee issues the last few seasons knocked Utley off an All-Star pace, but he’s playing now as if those problems are behind him.
”I just see him in really good shape, moving really well on the field defensively and running the bases,” Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. ”He’s staying so active on the bases. Maybe that shows how well he’s feeling. That’s (knee problems) a non-issue and he’s having quality at-bats and seeing the ball well. He’s just in a real good zone. Even his outs are hard.”
Utley, notorious for keeping things close to the vest, said he’s feeling no better or worse physically.
”I’ve had some decent days, feel OK,” he said. ”I feel fine, like I normally do.”
Will Nieves had three hits and two RBIs for Philadelphia, which has won 13 of its last 16 games against Miami.
Garrett Jones homered and Casey McGehee had two hits and an RBI for the Marlins, who lost their seventh straight. The Marlins return home to face the Nationals on Monday after getting swept on the six-game road trip through Washington and Philadelphia.
”Everyone has to take ownership for this trip,” Miami manager Mike Redmond said. ”We’ve got to get better. There are areas we have to improve on, but we’re still battling. Nobody’s going to give up.”
Utley broke a 3-all tie with two outs in the eighth by driving a 1-0 offering from Mike Dunn (0-1) into the seats in right-center.
”Just finding some holes,” Utley said. ”Not trying to do too much. Trying to put the ball in play and right now they’re falling.”
A.J. Bastardo (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save in four chances.
Kyle Kendrick has a sparkling career record against the Marlins, going 12-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 21 career games coming in. In his last 11, he was 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA. But he did not factor into the decision Sunday after giving up three runs – two earned – on six hits in six innings.
His counterpart, Henderson Alvarez, yielded three runs and 12 hits in six innings.
The Marlins took advantage of first baseman Ryan Howard’s fielding error to get a run in the first on McGehee’s RBI single and tacked on a run on in the second on Christian Yelich’s run-scoring single.
Jones launched his first homer of the season to deep right with one out in the fifth to give Miami a 3-1 lead.
Philadelphia tied it in the bottom half on Nieves’ two-out, two-run double to right.
The Phillies requested an out call at home plate be reviewed in the seventh inning.
Tony Gwynn Jr. was called out trying to score from first on Utley’s double to left. But Sandberg asked for the play to be reviewed because he thought catcher Jeff Mathis was blocking the plate with his left leg prior to Gwynn’s slide.
Under the expanded replay format, umpires initiate a review of the new rule covering collisions at home plate. After a 54-second delay the out call by homeplate umpire Mark Ripperger was upheld.
Sandberg, though, believes there needs to be clarification to the rule.
”I thought the catcher did not give the base runner a lane,” he said. ”I saw the replay and I still say the leg was blocking it, so Gwynn didn’t have a lane to home plate. I felt like Gwynn had to alter his slide because the plate was blocked, so there’s some confusion there.”
Howard had just three hits in his last 17 at-bats before homering to the opposite field with one out in the third to tie it at 1. It was the second homer of the season for Howard.
Gwynn started in center field in place of Ben Revere for the third straight game and had three hits. Revere struck out swinging in the seventh as a pinch-hitter.
The Phillies, who entered leading the NL with 43 bases on balls, walked six times against three Marlins pitchers.
NOTES: Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt debuted in the Phillies broadcast booth during the game. Schmidt will serve as a color analyst on Sunday home games this season. … Prior to the game, the Phillies optioned RHP Justin De Fratus to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and recalled RHP Luis Garcia. De Fratus allowed four runs in five innings (7.20 ERA) over four games this season. … Phillies RHP Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 4.35) opposes Atlanta RHP Ervin Santana (1-0, 0.00) when the teams open a four-game series in Philadelphia at 7:05 p.m. Monday. … Marlins LHP Brad Hand (0-0, 3.24) faces RHP Jordan Zimmerman (0-0, 8.10) Monday. … Philadelphia 3B Cody Asche went 0 for 2 and is hitless in 10 at-bats.