ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 33
games. His manager thinks he can go a lot longer.
Utley kept the major league's longest streak this year alive
with two hits -- one in the first inning -- against the team that
stopped teammate Jimmy Rollins' 38-game run early this season.
"I don't want to say too much about it, but that's a pretty
good hitter," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after Utley
helped Philadelphia beat the sagging St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on
Tuesday night. "There's some luck that comes into play, there's a
whole lot of things that come into play.
"But he's a type of guy who can go a long ways in a streak."
Utley is five games shy of the franchise record held by Rollins,
who hit in the last 36 games of 2005 and the first two this season
before going 0-for-4 against Jason Marquis and Josh Hancock on
April 6. He has consistently declined comment during the streak,
leaving the superlatives to his teammates and opponents.
"What he's doing, I think not only the fans in Philadelphia but
I think baseball fans everywhere appreciate what's going on," said
Ryan Howard, who homered and had three RBI in his first game in
his hometown. "It has everybody on the edge of their seats
wondering what he's going to do."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he enjoyed tracking Utley's
streak before the Phillies came to town. Not anymore.
"His bat helped beat us, so I didn't enjoy that at all," La
Russa said. "I know what he's doing and how tough it is, so we'll
try to be as tough as we can on him."
The Cardinals have lost five in a row, a slump that began with
them getting swept in a four-game series in Chicago for the first
time since 1972. They swept the Phillies in a three-game series to
open the season, outscoring them 21-10, but got all three of their
hits and all three runs Tuesday in the fourth inning.
Rookie Scott Mathieson and three relievers retired the final 16
"You make outs like that, where's the excitement?" La Russa
said. "Three up, three down. Three up, three down. We're not
generating anything, so we have to do something about that."
Chris Coste also homered for the Phillies, who have won four of
Utley's single up the middle on an 0-1 pitch from Jeff Suppan in
the first made him 4-for-8 against the right-hander for his career.
He was robbed of a second hit when first baseman Albert Pujols
snared his sharply hit grounder, although Pujols mishandled the
ball out of his glove for an error. Utley added a single on a high
hopper off Pujols' glove in the ninth.
Utley is batting .404 (57-for-141) to raise his average to .328
during the streak, tied for the ninth-longest in the National
League with Rogers Hornsby (1922) and George Davis (1893).
Mathieson (1-2) got his first career win in his fourth major
league start, allowing three runs and three hits in five innings.
The 22-year-old, who began the year at Double-A, worked around five
walks with only one scoring. Tom Gordon got the last three outs for
his 26th save in 29 chances.
Howard grounded into a double play with runners on first and
third to end the first. He didn't miss his next opportunity with a
two-run single with the bases loaded in the third, then hit his
NL-best 36th homer leading off the fifth for a 4-3 lead.
Howard, who went to Lafayette High School in suburban St. Louis,
is 6-for-17 with three homers against the team he rooted for as a
"Being able to come home and perform like that in front of my
friends and familiy is special to me," Howard said. "It means a
lot to be able to come home and play and play well."
Suppan (8-6), who had allowed only two runs in 20 innings over
his last three starts, struggled to make it through the fifth. He
allowed five runs, four earned, and nine hits. He is 0-3 against
the Phillies the last two seasons with 14 runs allowed in 12
Jim Edmonds and Suppan had RBI singles in the fourth for the
Cardinals to tie it at three before homers by Howard in the fifth and
Coste in the sixth made it 5-3.
Utley, who hit in every game in July, is only the fourth
player in the last 20 years to hit in every game in a month. The
others are Rollins last September, Shawn Green of the Blue Jays
(July 1999) and Albert Belle of the White Sox (May 1999). ... The
Cardinals have lost four or more in a row three times this season
after having no slump longer than three games last year. ... The
Phillies have hit 21 homers in their last 14 road games.