Howard, Utley get planned off-day vs. Rox

Howard, Utley get planned off-day vs. Rox

Howard, Utley get planned off-day vs. Rox
DENVER -- As the Phillies looked for their first series win in nearly a month on Sunday, manager Charlie Manuel had the heart of his lineup sitting on the bench.

Sunday's series finale against the Rockies found Ryan Howard and Chase Utley getting a breather as they each work back to full strength after spending the first three months of the season on the disabled list with a left Achilles and left knee injury, respectively.

"Right now, for Howard and Utley, it's two on, one [off]," Manuel said of his plan for his clean-up and No. 3 hitters. "But I want to build it up to three and four, and then turn them loose. I'll always give them a break during the week, but I'd like to get them as many games as possible."

Utley has played in 12 games since returning from the DL on June 27. He is hitting .262 with two homers and five RBIs, and has been thrown out in one stolen base attempt. Utley was hitting .375 (3-for-8) with three RBIs through the first two games of the two-city road trip that continues Monday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

Howard went two-for-eight in his first two games since coming off the DL on July 6, then had an 0-for-7 stretch in two games against the Rockies on Friday and Saturday. The Rockies have thrown a pair of southpaws at the Phillies to open and close the series, with rookie Christian Friedrich winning Friday's opener and fellow rookie Drew Pomeranz climbing the hill for Sunday's rubber match.

"They are throwing a lefty," Manuel said. "I didn't play Placido [Polanco] at third [on Saturday] because I want him to play Sunday, because it's likely Howard won't play."

Ty Wigginton (.247, nine homers, 35 RBIs) got the majority of starts at first with Howard out of commission, and he made the start at first on Sunday, batting fifth. Mike Fontenot (.314, one homer, five RBIs) made his 13th start at second on Sunday.

"He's got a short stroke," Manuel said of Fontenot's ability in left-on-left match-ups. "He hits them okay at times."

The Phillies last series victory came June 19-21 at home against the Rockies. They haven't won a road series since June 12-14 at Minnesota.