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Fill-in second baseman has made his mark

5/21/2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Chase Utley may not return to the minors if
he keeps playing the way he has this year.

Utley had three hits and three RBI, including a go-ahead single
in the eighth inning that capped a comeback from a three-run
deficit and led the Philadelphia Phillies over the San Diego Padres
5-4 Friday night.

Utley homered for the second straight game and is 11-for-37 with
three homers and 13 RBI in 10 games since his recall from the
minors.

With Opening Day second-baseman Placido Polanco set to come off
the disabled list on Sunday, the Phillies must decide what to do
with the hot-hitting Utley.

"I'm not going to answer questions about that until we have to
make a roster move," said Phillies manager Larry Bowa, who then
added, "Don't forget what Polanco did last year (.289, 14 HRs, 63
RBI). You go on the disabled list, you don't lose your job.

"Utley's going to be a very good baseball player. He is right
now. But I'm not going to go into what we're going to do."

Utley will at least make Bowa's decision difficult, having
provided much more offense than Polanco's one RBI in 112 at-bats
this season.

"Right now, I have a great opportunity to help this team win,"
Utley said.

David Bell also homered for the Phillies.

Ryan Madson (3-1) pitched a hitless eighth inning, and Tim
Worrell finished for his fourth save in six chances. After Terrence
Long doubled with one out and advanced on Kerry Robinson's
groundout, Mark Loretta hit a game-ending grounder to Worrell.

Brian Giles homered for the second straight night and had three
RBI for San Diego.

With the Phillies trailing 4-3 in the eighth, Jimmy Rollins drew
a two-out walk, stole his team-high 10th base and scored on Bobby
Abreu's triple off Akinori Otsuka (3-2). Pat Burrell walked, and
Utley then singled to left to knock in the go-ahead run.

Otsuka had given up only two runs in 20 2-3 innings entering
Friday.

"The bullpen's done a good job all year. It just didn't happen
tonight," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said.

Former Phillie Adam Eaton, who has never beaten Philadelphia,
allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings.

"I could have went farther, but you know how things go," Eaton
said. "The past few starts, I've struggled, so get me out of there
with a good situation and good mind frame."

Phillies starter Kevin Millwood tied a season-high with seven
strikeouts but gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings.

Utley hit a 448-foot homer in the second, the first to land in
the visitor's bullpen beyond right field at Citizens Bank Park.

"That's pretty much everything I have," Utley said.

Giles's eighth homer, a two-run drive, put San Diego ahead 2-1
in the third. Giles added an RBI groundout in the fifth and Phil
Nevin followed with a double off Abreu in right to make it 4-1.

After Utley's homer, Eaton retired 14 of 16 batters. Utley hit
an RBI double in the seventh, then was thrown out trying to advance
by catcher Ramon Hernandez. Four pitches later, Bell homered off
Scott Linebrink to cut the Padres' lead to one.

"I can't fault a guy for being aggressive," Bowa said of
Utley's baserunning blunder. "That's how he plays. That's why they
call him 'Dirtball.' "

Game notes
Phillies 1B Jim Thome missed his third straight game with a
sprained index finger. ... Loretta scored a pair runs to push his
team-leading total to 30. ... Sean Burroughs was caught stealing in
the fourth, but was successful in the eight for his team-high
fourth stolen base of the year. ... Before Abreu's triple, the top
four hitters in the Phillies' lineup combined to go 0-for-12. ...
RHP Rod Beck returned to the Padres after missing two months
because of personal reasons. He did not pitch. ... After the game,
the Phillies optioned RHP Geoff Geary to Triple-A Scranton
Wilkes-Barre to make room on the roster for Saturday's starter,
Josh Hancock, who was recalled.