Utley, Phils bowl over Dodgers

Utley, Phils bowl over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Chase Utley saw the words "critical insurance run" written across Dodgers catcher Russell Martin in a game the Phillies had to win.

While replays showed the ensuing collision at home plate to be unnecessary, it was still inevitable, especially when the run turned out to be the winner in Sunday's 6-4 victory over Dodgers, allowing the Phillies to leave Los Angeles with a split of the four-game series.

With the Phillies having taken a 4-3 lead on Utley's double -- scoring Jimmy Rollins -- Bobby Abreu poked a shallow single to put runners on first and third with no outs.

With the infield in, Ryan Howard grounded to first baseman Olmedo Saenz, whose throw pulled Martin to the first-base side of the plate. No matter, because by that time, Utley had already decided on an aggressive course of action.

"I knew it was going to be a close play," Utley said. "As I'm running down the line, I had to make a decision on what to do, and decided to knock the ball loose."

He did, and wound up with a red mark on his left temple as a souvenir. Martin ended up with a cut on his lip, though he stayed in a game. And in a potentially related story, pinch-hitter Shane Victorino got hit by a pitch two batters later.

After seeing the replay, Utley acknowledged that he probably didn't have to slide, though there was no way he could have known at the time.

"The throw threw him off a little bit," he said, "but at that point, there was no turning back."

"I saw the video and he was already committed," Martin said, adding that he thought it was a clean play. "The throw took me off line. It wasn't a big deal. You're supposed to play hard."

Hard is the only word Utley understands when it comes to playing baseball, whether it's racing down the line to beat out an infield hit, sliding into second to break up a double play, or crashing into a catcher.

His style of play is contagious.

"That [stuff] rubs off on guys. You're supposed to play hard. If there's a collision, it's part of the game," said Aaron Rowand, who knows something about collisions. "It happens. It's something to rally around. Personally, I love it."

Utley also homered in the third for Philadelphia's first run after a first-inning single. He went 7-for-14 for the series.

Geoff Geary, who recorded Friday's win, got out of a bases-loaded jam with one pitch, wound up as Sunday's winning pitcher, and was chided for it by Brett Myers.

"I wish I could make one pitch and get an out," Myers said.

Myers gave the Phillies a chance at a win, pitching into the seventh. Thanks to three double plays in the first four innings, he faced the minimum over that span. He worked 6 2/3 innings on an 86-degree day and escaped problems in the fifth and sixth.

The sixth could've been his undoing, as he loaded the bases with no outs, on a single up the middle and two infield hits to Ramon Martinez and Matt Kemp. He was late covering first on Martinez's hit and Kemp's dribbler traveled roughly five feet in front of Mike Lieberthal.

"That happened twice today," Myers said, of his late coverage. "I was more worried about making the pitch."

A double-play grounder by J.D. Drew tied the score and a flyout ended the inning. Though the game was now tied, Myers avoided letting the game get out of control.

Was he satisfied?

"No, because I gave up a run," he said. "I don't like doing that. I tried to keep it close. I'm just happy the team won."

The team was pleased that Myers brought them into the dugout with the game tied.

"It still gave us an opportunity," Utley said. "Say he walks a guy, a couple of hits here and there, because he's trying to strike guys out, we're down two or three runs. It's a different game. He's maturing. He's starting to pitch like he should."

Myers' day ended after issuing a pair of two-out walks in the seventh, on curve balls he thought were strikes. He showed his anger with home-plate umpire Rob Drake, then continued the discussion with Manuel in the dugout after the inning ended.

Myers and Manuel each thought the jam could've been avoided. Myers thought it was the umpire, while Manuel felt Myers should have gone with his strength.

"You get into a jam, you've got to go with your best pitch, and I think his best pitch is a fastball," Manuel said. "He's getting better. He's close. One of these days, I'm going to tell you he's there."

And he's bringing the Phillies with him.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.