Utley set to return for offensively hurting Phils
Chase Utley is set to slide back into his familiar No. 3 spot in the lineup and take the field at second base.
The setting is familiar for the five-time All Star. The way the Phillies are slumping at the plate is not.
Utley's return is needed in the worst way for the offensively inept Phillies. Matt Harrison took a five-hitter into the ninth inning and helped the Texas Rangers avoid a three-game sweep with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
It was so bad that slugger Ryan Howard tried to bunt for a hit in the ninth.
''We're going to hit, we're going to hit better,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ''We're going to bottom out one of these days. Hopefully, it was today.''
The Phillies were shut out for the fourth time this season. The Phillies had eight hits on Saturday, snapping a streak of seven straight games with six or less. The NL East leaders had five on Sunday.
Utley will be activated off the 15-day disabled list before Monday's game against Cincinnati. He hasn't played this season because of tendinitis in his right knee.
The Phillies also have center fielder Shane Victorino on the DL with a hamstring injury.
''Once we get Chase and Victorino back in there, our lineup's going to be much better,'' Manuel said.
For now, that's wishful thinking.
Utley said after his rehab games he was feeling great, but there are no guarantees he's totally healthy and ready to give the Phillies that instant jolt of offense they need.
Not even a solid outing by Roy Oswalt (3-2) could save them against the Rangers.
Oswalt lost for the first time (10-1) at Citizens Bank Park. He was 6-0 in eight starts with the Phillies. He struck out three and walked two.
Oswalt said he couldn't change his approach when the offense is slumping.
''You've just got to hit your spots a little bit better,'' Oswalt said. ''You've got to kind of dance of between raindrops out there. You can't give up too many hits in one inning.''
Harrison (4-4) was hardly dazzling. He struck out three, walked three and threw 117 pitches in his longest outing of the season, finishing two outs shy of his first shutout since 2009.
Harrison was winless in his last five starts - a streak easily broken in Philadelphia.
''I knew with Oswalt pitching, it would be a close game, so I wanted to give the team a chance to win,'' Harrison said. ''It's good to finally have a win. It seems like it's been two months. This is a real confidence booster for me.''
Harrison fanned Howard to open the ninth, but was lifted after he walked Ben Francisco.
Neftali Feliz got two outs for his ninth save. Mitch Moreland had an RBI double off Oswalt and Craig Gentry added a suicide squeeze.
''The plane ride will be a lot better,'' Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ''I hope this will be a momentum swing for us.''
The Rangers should get a boost Monday, too: Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz should be activated off the DL in time for Monday's home game against the Chicago White Sox. Both were expected to play Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock in the final game of their minor league rehab assignments.
Texas touched Oswalt for eight hits and broke through for a run in the sixth.
Michael Young singled to right and advanced to second on a grounder. Moreland drove the ball the opposite way off the left-field wall for a run-scoring double.
He was left there when shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a nice grab in the hole to throw out Harrison and end the inning.
The Rangers made it 2-0 in the eighth when Gentry's suicide squeeze scored Adrian Beltre, who had doubled.
The Phillies are in a funk and they'll need more than Utley's return to spark the offense.
The Phillies have not scored more than three runs in a game since May 13. They scored a combined five runs in the first two games of the series, just enough to win with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee on the mound.
Oswalt wasn't so lucky.
Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez said the team needs Utley.
''It's not only what he does for you on the field, but what he does in the clubhouse,'' he said. ''It's a big boost for us. I think we've hit some balls pretty good as of late. I think that there's some signs of life.''
NOTES: The Phillies dropped to 5-1 against the Rangers at Citizens Bank Park in interleague play. ... The Phillies are set to put RHP Joe Blanton on the DL and recall righty Vance Worley before Monday's game. The Phillies optioned INF Pete Orr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... Phillies RHP Ryan Madson has a sore right hand after getting hit on Friday.