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Utley, Hamels come out sharp in Phils' spring opener

Second baseman notches RBI in first at-bat; starter tosses two shutout innings

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Utley, Hamels come out sharp in Phils' spring opener play video for Utley, Hamels come out sharp in Phils' spring opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros opened their Grapefruit League schedules Saturday with a game at Bright House Field.

It was the Astros' first game in the American League.

It also was Phillies second baseman Chase Utley's first Spring Training game since 2010 because of knee injuries. He ripped a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw from Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell in the first inning to score the Phillies' first run in an 8-3 loss.

The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, when Nate Freiman -- who had two RBIs -- and Carlos Corporan each singled to knock in runs.

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels threw two scoreless innings. Harrell allowed four hits, two runs and one walk in two innings.

"Physically, I feel really strong," Hamels said.

"I was just mainly trying to locate," said Harrell, who could be the Astros' Opening Day starter. "I didn't locate very well, and the results showed that. A couple of times I made good pitches and got a lot of ground balls, which was a plus. I was pulling off on my front side a little bit, and a few pitches were pretty flat. Then I started making [pitches in] the second inning when I went back out to make sure my front shoulder was closed. Just trying to work [at keeping] the ball down and work the sinker."

Robbie Grossman notched his first of two RBIs with a single, and Freiman added his second RBI in a two-run Astros fifth before Brandon Barnes clubbed a solo home run in the seventh.

Second baseman Pete Orr mashed the Phillies' first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the eighth.

The Phillies committed four errors.

Up next for Phillies: Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay will make his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Tigers in Lakeland at 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio. Halladay is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season and says a revamped offseason training program has him moving in the right direction. Sunday will be his first true test in finding out if that program worked.

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

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