Oswalt flirts with no-no as Phils top Dodgers
Utley smacks career-high three doubles in series clincher
LOS ANGELES -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is an impossible read, and he likes it that way.
However, as he packed his bags for a flight to Colorado on Wednesday, he sounded like a confident man. He went 3-for-5 with a career-high three doubles in a 5-1 victory over the Dodgers Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Utley teamed up with Roy Oswalt, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, who each hit solo homers, to give the Phillies the three-game series victory.
The Phillies remained no worse than three games behind the Braves in the National League East, and held at least a 1 1/2-game lead over the Giants in the NL Wild-card race.
"All it takes is one good swing to feel good at the plate," Utley said.
The Phillies have been struggling offensively lately, but individual players have flashed signs of life during their seven-game road trip through San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado. Utley, who has struggled since returning from surgery to repair a torn ligament on his right thumb, had his big day Wednesday. Ryan Howard, who has struggled since returning from the DL with a sprained left ankle, hit a three-run home run in Tuesday's 8-4 victory.
Rollins, who has struggled against right-handed pitching this season, had three hits against right-handers in Friday's 3-2 victory over the Padres at PETCO Park. Victorino, who also has struggled against right-handers, had a couple big hits against them in Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Padres.
It is too early to tell if these things will culminate into the Phillies pounding opposing pitching staffs the final month of the season, but Utley likes what he sees.
"Anytime you get positive results and contribute it builds your confidence," he said. "Confidence is half the battle at the plate. Things seem to be moving in the right direction."
Oswalt has been moving in the right direction after a rough debut with the Phillies on July 30. He is 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in seven starts since the Phillies acquired him July 29 from the Houston Astros. He allowed one hit, six walks and struck out six in 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers.
Oswalt walked James Loney three times, Casey Blake once and Rod Barajas once before Blake singled to right field with two outs in the sixth inning to break up the no-hitter.
Call Oswalt wildly effective.
"I had enough movement on my ball that they couldn't look in one place," Oswalt said. "It started outside and ran back in on a lot of them. I got a lot of jam shots and kept them off balance."
Oswalt walked Ryan Theriot with one out in the seventh inning -- it tied a career-high six walks -- before Phillies manager Charlie Manuel replaced him with left-hander J.C. Romero.
"I'm not doing anything different than I did in Houston," Oswalt said. "It's just a different atmosphere and playing for something."
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first on Rollins' leadoff homer to left field against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. Victorino hit a leadoff homer to left in the second inning to make it 2-0. The Phillies took a 3-0 lead in the seventh with Rollins walked, stole second and scored on Utley's double to left field.
"First pitch to Rollins I was really just trying to throw a strike," Kershaw said. "Tip your hat to him, I guess. I obviously didn't expect him to turn and burn like that. The one to Victorino, I'd like to have back. It was a 0-2 pitch up."
The Phillies scored a couple runs in the ninth on a double from Domonic Brown, single from Rollins and double from Utley.
The Phillies have won five of the first six games on this road trip.
The hits are coming at the right time.
"You always want to do as good as you can the entire season," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said. "But it just seems like after that series against the Astros, we said, 'OK, now we have to do it.' And so we were able to.
It's pretty amazing what these guys are able to turn it on when it counts. I think that's the one thing we've done the past couple years since I've been here. It takes everybody to do it, but it's a pretty great group of players."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.