Utley Stars Again as Phils Keep Hope Alive

If the Phillies are going to win the NL Wild Card, they'll have to do it in a one-game playoff with Houston - if it gets that far. The Phillies beat Washington 8-4 Saturday, but the Astros clinched at least a tie for the wild card as they beat the Cubs 3-1 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Chase Utley went through a slump about a month ago, but has picked up the pace considerably since then. Saturday, Utley homered twice as the Phillies beat Washington to stay in the hunt for the NL Wild Card.

With the Phillies win and the Astros win over the Cubs, the magic number now stands at one, meaning that the Astros have clinched at least a tie. If the Astros win or the Phillies lose on Sunday, Houston will advance to the playoffs. If the Astros lost and the Phillies win Sunday, they would square off in a one-game playoff Monday in Philadelphia.

Brett Myers (13-8) helped the Phillies' cause striking out a career high 12 hitters and going 6 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs. Ryan Madson relieved Myers in the seventh and got out of a jam in the seventh, but gave got into a jam of his own in the eighth.

With runners on first and third, Aaron Fultz relieved Madson and surrendered an RBI single to Ryan Church, who had homered earlier in the game. Fultz then struck out Cristian Guzman before Ugueth Urbina came on to strike out pinch-hitter Brad Wilkerson.

While Utley drove in three runs, Ryan Howard provided a big blow with a bases loaded double in the first inning that gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead. Earlier, Jimmy Rollins had scored the game's first run after he doubled and Kenny Lofton singled to drive him home. Rollins' double - on the first pitch of the game - extended his hitting streak to 35 games.

Howard topped his day with a solo homerun off starter John Patterson (9-7) in the sixth inning.

The two teams meet on the final day of the regular season Sunday with Jon Lieber (16-13, 4.22) going against Hector Carrasco (5-3, 1.73). The Astros will be at home against Chicago with Roy Oswalt (19-12, 2.86) going against Greg Maddux (13-14, 4.18).


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