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Manuel has Utley bat second, Pence third

Manuel has Utley bat second, Pence third

Manuel has Utley bat second, Pence third
NEW YORK -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel showed up at Citi Field on Sunday with the opportunity to use his everyday lineup for just the second time since Aug. 6.

He made one relatively significant change. He had Chase Utley, who has been his primary No. 3 hitter since Manuel replaced Larry Bowa as manager in 2005, hit second. Hunter Pence, who had been hitting fifth behind Ryan Howard, hit third.

The lineup looked like this: Jimmy Rollins, Utley, Pence, Howard, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz and Roy Halladay.

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"That's our best balanced lineup," Manuel said. "It splits up our lefties. Victorino being a switch-hitter in the five-hole, I like. I think that helps. Utley can hook the ball in the hole and he's got a high on-base percentage when he's playing good. He walks, things like that. Team player. Pence is a .300 hitter. Got power. I want to put this lineup on the field and let it play and see. I like it. It gives us more balance."

It made sense to move Utley from the three-hole. His .765 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is his lowest since 2003, when he played 43 games as a rookie. His OPS also ranks 49th out of 95 players in the National League with 400 or more plate appearances. According to Baseball Prospectus, his 11.4 RBI percentage is 204th out of 249 players with 300 or more plate appearances, which shows Utley hasn't taken advantage of RBI opportunities like he has in the past.

Manuel said he plans to give this lineup a shot, which means it could be used Saturday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park.

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