Utley powering his way into Series lore
Phils slugger ties Reggie for most homers in one Classic
PHILADELPHIA -- After struggling through the first two rounds of this year's postseason, Chase Utley has realized the boyhood dream shared by those who have aspired to follow in the footsteps of legendary World Series heroes like Reggie Jackson.
If the Phillies are able to go to New York and win the final two games of this year's World Series, Philadelphia fans could find themselves spending many more years talking about that 2009 Fall Classic, when Utley proved to be far too powerful for the Yankees.
On the way to keeping their season alive with an 8-6, Game 5 win over the Yankees on Monday night, the Phillies saw Utley jump-start them with a three-run, first-inning homer and then deliver a seventh-inning blast that proved record-setting in multiple ways.
"Chase, when he gets hot, definitely he can get hot and stay hot for a month or two," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after watching his All-Star second baseman match the record Jackson set when he hit five homers in the '77 World Series.
Utley's five homers against the Yankees have increased his career World Series total to seven, marking the most hit by a second baseman.
In addition, his seventh-inning blast enabled him to join Kansas City's Willie Aikens as the only players who have had multihomer performances in the same World Series. The Phillies second baseman took CC Sabathia deep twice in Game 1.
Kings of the big fly
"Obviously, it's great company," Utley said. "At some point, not right now, maybe I'll look back on it and see what kind of special moment it is. But right now our goal is to win two more games."
Entering Monday, it was evident that Utley was going to have to start inflicting some pain on somebody other than Sabathia.
Through the first four games of this Fall Classic, he had gone 4-for-6 with three homers, a double and four RBIs against Sabathia and 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against all of the other Yankees pitchers.
This trend and the Phillies hopes changed on Monday night, when Utley drilled A.J. Burnett's first-pitch fastball into the right-center-field seats for a three-run homer that erased the one-run advantage the Yankees had gained in the top half of the inning against Cliff Lee.
"When he hit that homer, that was probably the most excited that I've been since we won it last year," Phillies reliever Ryan Madson said.
Furthering his role as an unassuming leader, Utley delivered this blast at a time when his team certainly needed a lift. Two innings later, he drew a leadoff walk that led to two more runs against Burnett, who was lifted before recording an out in the third inning.
"You know, scoring runs early if you can do it is important," Utley said. "It takes a little pressure off everybody."
When Utley hit just one homer during the first two rounds of this year's postseason, he didn't feel any added pressure. Instead, he remained confident that he could once again prove to be the same valuable run producer who has always maintained the confidence of his teammates.
"Everybody was talking about what he was going to do and how was he going to come out of it," Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino said. "He's done a great job so far and he's definitely shown everybody the Chase Utley that he is."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.