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ATL@PHI: Phils walk off on Gload's ninth-inning hit

PHILADELPHIA -- This was supposed to be a night when Roy Oswalt would mock those who questioned his grip on the postseason rotation, a night Ross Gload would wear the hero's cape and soak in the cheers for his Major League-leading 17th pinch-hit.

Instead, Chase Utley's hit-by-pitch cast a bit of a pall over Wednesday night's 3-2 walk-off victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Utley left the game for precautionary reasons with a possible concussion. He did not see the 90-plus-mph pitch come hurtling toward his head, and he neither got out of the way nor flinched; the ball left a smudgy gray mark on top of his red batting helmet.

"We think it's very, very, mild, but we're going to be cautious with him, obviously," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "You don't want to mess with the head."

Utley did not accompany the team to Milwaukee, and will meet with doctors on Thursday.

So even when Gload ripped a pitch down the first-base line in the bottom of the ninth to plate Raul Ibanez and extend the Phillies' lead in the National League East to 10 1/2 games and shrink their magic number for a postseason berth to just five, there was concern.

After Oswalt, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing a leadoff double to Michael Bourn, made for a more intriguing debate about the postseason rotation, there was concern.

And what does Oswalt make of this supposed month-long competition with Vance Worley for the No. 4 spot? That it's comical.

"After I read all the stuff in the paper, I thought I got released," Oswalt said. "I thought I might need to pick it up since I wouldn't have a job after today."

Oswalt figures to have the advantage because he has proven himself in 10 career postseason starts, including three with Philadelphia last season in which allowed five earned runs over 19 innings (2.37 ERA).

And little was done on Wednesday to dispute that notion. Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman each hit key one-out singles with a runner on second in the sixth and seventh, respectively, the latter plating Jason Heyward to give the Braves a one-run lead. But more important, Oswalt turned to his fastball 45 times, averaged 92.2 mph and still reached 93 mph as he approached 116 pitches and seven innings of work.

"The only pitch I wish I had back was the pitch to Heyward in the seventh," Oswalt said. "The pitch to Chipper hit off the end of the bat, hit a nice spot. Same thing with Freeman; he hit a curveball down in the zone, a ground ball right through the infield. That's what you're looking for. You just hope they hit it at somebody."

Ibanez's solo home run to right in the second, his 250th career homer, was the Phillies' only hit through five innings, until Placido Polanco singled in the sixth.

At first it was ruled that Polanco's hit was caught by a diving Heyward. Polanco could not believe he had been ruled out. He hopped up and down, arms stretched out, pleading for an explanation. He was certain that his soft liner had taken a short hop into Heyward's glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel came out to argue, the umpires conversed, and the call was overturned.

After completing their sweep of the Braves, the Phillies boarded a plane to Milwaukee, where they will play a four-game series against another potential NL Championship Series opponent. Comments