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10/22/10 1:57 AM ET

Slumping at plate, Utley makes crucial catch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has not looked like himself in the National League Championship Series. Game 5 was only mildly more encouraging.

Utley atoned for some shaky early-game fielding with a snow-cone catch of a funky blooper in the seventh that doused the Giants' final rally. He also chipped-in with a single, and the Phillies held on for a 4-2 win that pulled them within 3-2 in the series.

Game 6 is Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

"We've got to start with the game on Saturday and go from there," Utley said. "We enjoy playing at home. Roy [Oswalt, the scheduled Game 6 starter] has pitched outstanding for us and so has Cole [Hamels, who would work Game 7]. But we can't get ahead of ourselves. We need to take it one game at a time."

Utley's NLCS funk seemed more apparent in the fourth inning in Game 4 on Wednesday against the Giants at AT&T Park. Utley took a half swing and flied out to left field. He immediately dropped his head as he made contact, tucked it into his right shoulder and jogged toward first base.

Even with Thursday's RBI hit, Utley has batted just .200 (6-for-30) with one home run and four RBIs in the postseason, and just .158 (3-for-19) with no RBIs in the NLCS.

Utley missed two months this season because of a torn ligament in his right thumb, which required surgery.

Phils manager Charlie Manuel said Utley has told him that he is healthy.

"He's had a hard time finding the swing consistently," Manuel said before Game 5 on Thursday. "Ryan Howard has been the same way. So has Jimmy [Rollins]. We had those guys out for quite a while. When you look at how they performed in the past, and just their swing and the balance and rhythm and quickness in their swings and things like that, they were having a hard time being consistent in that. But he says that he's healthy. And I believe him."

Polanco, Utley return to usual spots in lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel returned Chase Utley to the third spot in the Phillies' lineup for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Placido Polanco, who had hit third the previous three games, returned to the second spot.

"That's been my lineup most of the year," Manuel said. "I wanted to put as many left-handed hitters as possible, kind of join them, because I figure we've got to score runs on [Giants right-hander Tim] Lincecum. And if a lefty [relief] situation arises ... hopefully it will come up. We've got to score runs to get to it."

Manuel plans to pull out all the stops

SAN FRANCISCO -- It sounds like Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will consider everything Thursday in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

He should. If the Phils lose, their season is finished.

"I'm not going to rule nothing out," he said, although he indicated he would try to avoid using left-hander Cole Hamels. "But at the same time, it would be tough for us to put Cole in a game, except you never know until you get in the situation you might get into. But we're going to do everything we can to win the game tonight. I don't think there's no tomorrow for us."

Lidge cool with Phils using Oswalt in ninth

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day later, Phillies closer Brad Lidge still wasn't surprised that he was left sitting in the bullpen with Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on the line Wednesday.

A fresh Lidge was left out while Roy Oswalt, only three days removed from an eight-inning start in Game 2 and only a few hours removed from a between-starts bullpen session, worked the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied at 5. Oswalt was manager Charlie Manuel's choice over right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who has not pitched since Oct. 1 and wasn't even on the Phils' Division Series roster, left-hander J.C. Romero, who might have been a poor fit against that right-handed portion of the Giants' lineup, and Lidge, who was being stashed for a save situation that never came. San Franciso rallied for two singles and a sacrifice fly off Oswalt and won, 6-5.

But Lidge still thought it was the right call.

"It's pretty much a standard closer recipe," Lidge said.

That recipe goes like this: At home, you can use your closer in the ninth inning of a tie game because you can win without facing a save situation. On the road, you wait.

"That's kind of the way we've always handled it," Lidge said. "Charlie is not one to panic and change things. He keeps things going the way they've gone right for us, and that's what we did [Wednesday] night. And it just didn't work out last night, but it wasn't a bad idea. I mean, it was great to see Roy go in that game."

Sticking to that long-held baseball convention may have especially fit for Lidge, who, unlike Giants closer Brian Wilson, is a one-inning pitcher. Lidge has not worked more than one inning since 2007, when he was with the Astros.

So even if Lidge had worked a scoreless ninth and the Phillies pushed ahead in the 10th, he might have been finished. That would have left Manuel to choose Romero, Kendrick or perhaps Oswalt for a save situation.

-- Adam McCalvy

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.