Utley, Myers lead Phillies over Marlins

May 30, 2008 7:51:10 PM PDT
Chase Utley hit his major league-leading 18th homer to help Brett Myers win for the first time in six weeks, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Florida Marlins 12-3 Friday night. Ryan Howard and Chris Coste each had three-run shots for the Phillies, who won their fifth straight game and moved into first place in the NL East - a half-game ahead of the surprising Marlins.

Myers (3-6) allowed three runs and six hits in eight innings, striking out a season-high 11. Myers, the Phillies' opening-day starter, hadn't won since beating Houston on April 17. He lost his previous five decisions.

Myers' return to the starting rotation after a successful stint as a closer last year hasn't gone smoothly. But the hard-throwing right-hander has improved his last three outings and seems close to being back on track. He settled in after a shaky first and retired 14 of 16 at one point, including five straight strikeouts.

Philadelphia scored seven off Mark Hendrickson (7-3) in the second inning and chased the left-hander with four more in the fourth. Hendrickson lasted just 3 2-3 innings, allowing 10 runs and seven hits.

The Phillies, who led the league in runs the previous two seasons, have scored 60 in the last five games. Only the Chicago Cubs have more runs this season.

Coste connected with two on in the second to tie it at 3. Coste, who didn't reach the majors until he was 33 years old, is batting .341 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 91 at-bats.

Shane Victorino's two-run double to left-center put the Phillies ahead to stay at 5-3. Utley then ripped a liner into the right-field seats for a 7-3 lead.

Jimmy Rollins had a bloop RBI single in the fourth and Howard greeted reliever Burke Badenhop with an opposite-field drive off the left-field foul pole to give the Phillies an 11-3 lead.

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez left with a bruised thumb in the fifth after getting hit by Victorino's liner an inning earlier.

Myers struggled with his control in the first. He walked two and allowed three hits. Jorge Cantu had an RBI single and Luis Gonzalez hit a two-run single to put Florida ahead 3-0.

Myers got better the longer he pitched. He struck out the side in the eighth and fanned five of the last six batters he faced.

Hendrickson was a second-round draft pick by the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 and ended up playing 114 games for four teams before pursuing baseball.

Notes: Victorino extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. ... The left-handed hitting Utley has nine homers against left-handers, tops in the majors. Utley has 12 RBIs in the last four games. ... Coste is batting .351 (20-for-57) with five homers and 18 RBIs against the Marlins. ... The Phillies are 12-4 against left-handers in the last 16 games, 14-7 overall. ... It was Myers' 10th career double-digit strikeout game, second this season.