Slumping at plate, Utley makes crucial catch

Slumping at plate, Utley makes crucial catch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has not looked like himself in the National League Championship Series. Game 5 was only mildly more encouraging.

Utley atoned for some shaky early-game fielding with a snow-cone catch of a funky blooper in the seventh that doused the Giants' final rally. He also chipped-in with a single, and the Phillies held on for a 4-2 win that pulled them within 3-2 in the series.

Game 6 is Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

"We've got to start with the game on Saturday and go from there," Utley said. "We enjoy playing at home. Roy [Oswalt, the scheduled Game 6 starter] has pitched outstanding for us and so has Cole [Hamels, who would work Game 7]. But we can't get ahead of ourselves. We need to take it one game at a time."

Utley's NLCS funk seemed more apparent in the fourth inning in Game 4 on Wednesday against the Giants at AT&T Park. Utley took a half swing and flied out to left field. He immediately dropped his head as he made contact, tucked it into his right shoulder and jogged toward first base.

Even with Thursday's RBI hit, Utley has batted just .200 (6-for-30) with one home run and four RBIs in the postseason, and just .158 (3-for-19) with no RBIs in the NLCS.

Utley missed two months this season because of a torn ligament in his right thumb, which required surgery.

Phils manager Charlie Manuel said Utley has told him that he is healthy.

"He's had a hard time finding the swing consistently," Manuel said before Game 5 on Thursday. "Ryan Howard has been the same way. So has Jimmy [Rollins]. We had those guys out for quite a while. When you look at how they performed in the past, and just their swing and the balance and rhythm and quickness in their swings and things like that, they were having a hard time being consistent in that. But he says that he's healthy. And I believe him."