Utley leads Phillies to victory over Reds

June 2, 2008 9:08:11 PM PDT
Chase Utley made two diving, backhanded catches, hit another homer, barreled into a catcher and tried to bunt for a base hit. Watching from the bench, Ken Griffey Jr. saw one of the top players in the majors do whatever it takes to get a win.

Junior remained one shy of 600 home runs after getting the night off, but Utley hit his major league-leading 21st homer to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Monday night.

"He's one of the best around," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Utley.

Balls were flying out of Citizens Bank Park, but Griffey didn't get a chance to take his hacks. He wasn't in the starting lineup because of general soreness, though he should start Tuesday night. Griffey hit No. 599 at home Saturday against Atlanta. The only players to reach 600 are Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa.

Utley went deep for the fifth straight game, tying a club record he shares with Dick Allen, Mike Schmidt and Bobby Abreu. Utley also homered in five consecutive games earlier this season.

"He's swinging the bat as good as I've ever seen him and he's doing it every night," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Pedro Feliz and Chris Coste also connected for the NL East-leading Phillies. Rookie sensation Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion went deep for the Reds.

Kyle Kendrick (5-2) pitched just well enough to earn the win, giving up four runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. Chad Durbin pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings, Tom Gordon tossed a perfect eighth and Brad Lidge finished for his 14th save in as many chances. "The bullpen did a great job," Kendrick said.

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo was hurt by the longball. Arroyo (4-5) allowed five runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings. It was his shortest outing since giving up seven runs in 1 1-3 innings against Atlanta on May 4.

"I didn't have good command or good stuff," Arroyo said. "I didn't have much of anything."

Utley lined a two-run shot into the right-center field seats to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first. Utley is on pace to hit 58 homers, 26 more than his career high in 2006. The record for second basemen is 42, set by Rogers Hornsby in 1922 and tied by Davey Johnson in 1973.

Utley isn't just doing it with his bat. He robbed Joey Votto leading off the seventh and made almost the exact play on Votto again to end the game.

In the third, Utley slammed into catcher David Ross, but was out trying to score on Ryan Howard's double. He put down a near-perfect bunt that just rolled foul leading off the Phillies' seventh.

"We're having fun," Utley said. "The team is winning and the fans have been great."

Utley hears "M-V-P" chants almost every home game. If he ends up winning the award, it'll give the Phillies an MVP three-peat following Howard and Jimmy Rollins.

Bruce hit an opposite-field drive that just cleared the left-field wall to cut it to 2-1 in the fourth. It was Bruce's third homer in his first seven games. The 21-year-old center fielder has been on a tear since getting called up from Triple-A last week, hitting .577 with three homers and seven RBIs.

After Bruce's first three at-bats, he was 2-for-3, making him 15-for-25 overall. The last player to have at least 15 hits in his first 25 major league at-bats was Chris C. Jones of the Reds in 1991, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jones went 15-for-25 from April 27 to June 28.

Bruce flied out in his final at-bat in the eighth.

"Hopefully he keeps it up and other guys get hot," Baker said.

Feliz hit a two-run homer after Geoff Jenkins led off Philadelphia's fourth with a double. Coste followed with a solo shot to make it 5-1.

Encarnacion led off the fifth with a homer to left to get the Reds within 5-2.

Adam Dunn's two-run double off Durbin with two outs in the sixth cut it to 5-4. Kendrick left after Bruce singled to put two runners on with one out. Durbin retired Brandon Phillips on a fly to right, but Dunn hit a liner into the gap in right-center.

The Phillies chased Arroyo in the fifth after singles by Utley and Pat Burrell and a walk to Jenkins loaded the bases with one out. But Gary Majewski came in and retired Feliz on a double-play grounder to escape the jam and keep it close.

Notes: Phillies CF Shane Victorino singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, tying his career-best. ... Reds SS Jerry Hairston extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with a sixth-inning single. ... The Phillies are 28-0 when leading after eight innings.