Utley may remain in three-hole for Game 6

Utley may remain in three-hole for Game 6

PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Charlie Manuel said he is leaning toward keeping Raul Ibanez in the lineup and Chase Utley in the third spot in the order for Saturday's Game 6.

Manuel had flipped Utley with Placido Polanco for Games 2, 3 and 4 to avoid stacking Utley with fellow left-hander Ryan Howard. He put his second baseman back in his customary third spot in Thursday's Game 5, and Utley responded with a 1-for-4 night.

Manuel knows having his best lefties hitting back-to-back may not be ideal since it allows San Francisco to use specialists Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt without exposing them to a right-handed bat. At the same time, it's the lineup the Phillies have used most of the season, even against left-handed starters.

"I don't see where that makes a whole lot of difference at times," said Manuel, mentioning that Polanco and Utley hit lefties at similar rates. "Another thing, too -- a lot of times when you've got regular players like we've got, you start moving guys in the lineup and things, too, that's kind of like whether you realize it or not, they get prepared and they're ready and they usually think they're going to hit, like Polanco thinks he's the No. 2 hitter. Utley looks at it as the No. 3 hitter, things like that."

Utley hit third 102 times this season, compared to just five games in the two-spot. Polanco hit second 106 times.

Ibanez, meanwhile, was benched in favor of Ben Francisco in Game 4 against left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Manuel, though, liked the veteran's swings in Game 5 enough to feel confident he'd be back in the lineup against southpaw Jonathan Sanchez on Saturday.

"I think Raul swung better yesterday. Of course, he stayed on the ball," Manuel said. "The swing was not real long and out of control. Those are things that will go through my mind and everything like that when I'm sitting there thinking about the game."

Ibanez was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Sanchez in Game 2, and he's just 2-for-15 in the series.