PHILADELPHIA -- Darin Ruf finally got his shot.

With the Phillies practically eliminated from the postseason, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel penciled Ruf's name into the lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. It was Ruf's first big league start.

"It's pretty cool," Ruf said with a smile before the game. "I've been waiting for the opportunity, so now I've got to take advantage of it."

Ruf did just that in his first at-bat, hitting a solo home run to left field against Ross Detwiler in the second inning for his first big league hit.

Ruf had just three plate appearances with the Phillies prior to Tuesday, so he had hoped his swing wasn't too rusty. He also hoped he handled himself well in left field, which is a new position for him.

Everything worked out fine.

Ruf met Randy Johnson, who is the fan that caught the ball in left field. They chatted briefly, snapped a few photos and Ruf signed a few baseballs for Johnson -- who is from Toms River, N.J. -- and his friends.

"Hopefully I can hit you a few more," Ruf told them.

Bullpen session will determine Halladay's course

PHILADELPHIA -- If Roy Halladay wants to pitch one more time this season, he will.

Halladay suffered the second-shortest start of his career Saturday because of spasms behind his right shoulder, but he will throw a bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park to try to extend his season. If it goes well, the Phillies said Halladay will pitch this Saturday against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park.

If it does not go well, he will begin his offseason a few days early.

"I wouldn't say it's all his decision," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Tuesday. "We've involved our medical staff."

The Phillies said medical exams Friday and Sunday show no structural damage in Halladay's right shoulder.

"Why not pitch him?" Dubee said. "It's not a structural thing. It's a spasm. They're two different things. If it's structural, we definitely shut him down. He'd like to pitch. I think when you've got a guy like him, he deserves that. If he feels like he'd like to go out there and pitch, why not? Especially if you feel confident from the doctor's reports there's nothing structurally wrong."

But the Phillies have reduced Halladay's workload. They pushed his start to Saturday to reduce the spasms, which also eliminated the possibility he could pitch twice before the end of the season. That will give him a jump-start on the offseason, where he is expected to implement a new workout program to prevent future shoulder problems.

"I think Roy is going to be fine," Dubee said.

The Phillies can only hope.

Utley may see time at third before season's end

PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay's immediate future will be determined with Wednesday's bullpen session at Citizens Bank Park.

Chase Utley's immediate future as a third baseman also remains to be seen.

"We'll see," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Tuesday's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies have nine games remaining, and they indicated last week if Utley feels comfortable and they are eliminated from postseason contention, he could play at third base before the end of the season. The Phillies entered Tuesday five games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card. Even if the Phillies finished 9-0, the Cardinals would need to finish no better than 2-7 to tie.

Elimination could come quickly.

"I feel like we've got time if we want to try Chase over there," Manuel said.