Utley Comes Through As Phils Beat Vazquez & Expos

Redemption and revenge go hand-in-hand. Tuesday night, the Phillies got revenge for last week's sweep in Montreal, while Chase Utley got redemption for some defensive miscues. Utley notched his first major league triple to help the Phillies beat the Expos 5-3 and climb back into a tie with the Florida Marlins for the NL wild card race.

Chase Utley banged out a three-run triple in the bottom of the eighth inning to negate another subpar effort from the bullpen and lifted the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Expos and a tie with Florida for the National League wild card lead. The big hit helped to make up for some defensive struggles by the rookie second baseman.

With one on and none out in the sixth, Utley fielded a grounder by Orlando Cabrera and attempted to tag the runner. Brad Wilkerson eluded the tag, forcing Utley to get the out at first base. Montreal proceeded to score twice to take a 2-1 lead.

In the eighth, Utley chased down a bouncer from Endy Chavez with runners on second and third and two outs. But Utley's throw to first could not be scooped by first baseman Jim Thome, and Wil Cordero crossed the plate to give the Expos a 3-2 advantage.

In line for his fourth win in five starts against Philadelphia this season, Javier Vazquez (12-9) got the first two outs in the bottom of the eighth before running into trouble. Thome walked and Mike Lieberthal doubled to left field. Montreal manager Frank Robinson elected to walk Ricky Ledee and face Utley, who ripped an 0-1 offering to deep left-center field to give the Phillies a 5-3 bulge.

"A little bit," Utley said when asked if he felt redemption with his hit. "I guess I went from the doghouse to the penthouse. (Vazquez) left a pitch over the plate and I put a decent swing on it."

"He's one of the best righthanders in the league," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "But he made a mistake and Utley hit it. He pitches special against us, and I don't know why."

It was the first major league triple of Utley's career and helped Philadelphia fans forget another dismal performance from reliever Mike Williams. After Jose Mesa and Turk Wendell combined to sabotage a two-run Phillies lead on Monday, Williams relieved starter Amaury Telemaco to start the eighth. The All-Star closer who was acquired from Pittsburgh in July walked Vladimir Guerrero and allowed an infield single by Cordero before uncorking a wild pitch. Williams then walked Todd Zeile to load the bases before Bowa had had enough and called upon Rheal Cormier, who induced a double play before Utley's bad throw on Chavez's hit.

Cormier (5-0) benefited from Utley's triple, gaining the win with a scoreless inning, and Dan Plesac worked around a hit in the ninth for his second save. "We needed this," Plesac said. "I needed this. We lost a heartbreaker yesterday. It was an emotional roller coaster yesterday."

Guerrero left the game in the eighth inning with a hyperextended left knee that he suffered while making a shoestring catch on Marlon Byrd in the seventh. "Guerrero is out for tomorrow," Robinson declared. "Hopefully, he'll be back on Friday."

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on the solo homer by Thome. It was the slugger's 38th of the season, the most by a Phillie since Mike Schmidt belted 40 in 1983. The home run also ended a 29-inning scoreless streak for Vazquez, who allowed five runs and eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Vazquez went eight innings for his fourth complete game, one shy of his career high. "He's a great pitcher," Thome said. "He's got great stuff. He always keeps them in the game. This guy is one of the better guys we've faced. He knows how to pitch. This guy's stuff is so good. We were fortunate, especially with all the scoreless innings he's thrown."

With the five strikeouts, Vazquez ran his season total to 210, a new career high. The right-hander struck out 208 batters in 2001.

After Utley's misplay on the potential double play grounder in the sixth, Jose Vidro doubled to plate Wilkerson and tie the game. Guerrero was walked intentionally and Cordero grounded out, but Zeile hit an RBI single to left to give the Expos a 2-1 lead.

With one out in the bottom of the inning, Thome doubled and scored on Lieberthal's single, knotting the game at 2-2.

Telemaco pitched well for the Phillies, allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings. He struck out three and contributed to the Phillies' walkathon by issuing five. "I knew I had to pitch well the way (Vazquez) pitched the last time against us," Telemaco said. "I couldn't go out there and give up a lot of runs. I was focused to hold their offense."

Phillies pitchers have walked 21 batters in the last two games.

Despite the loss, Montreal remained four games behind in the wild card race.

The two-game series wraps up Wednesday afternoon with T.J. Tucker (0-1, 4.59) going against Kevin Millwood (13-9, 3.64).


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