MIAMI - When Charlie Manuel entered the dugout at Marlins Park a few hours before a 7-3 Phillies win Tuesday, the 69-year-old manager was unnoticed. He yelled in a high-pitched voice to call attention.
After 7:11 p.m., when the first pitch was thrown, it was as if Manuel snapped his fingers and everything went right for the Phillies. They scored seven runs, their most in a game in 19 days. Their 15 hits tied a season high. They pitched with efficiency, led by Tyler Cloyd. They soundly beat an inferior team and survived a 20-year-old pitcher.
But anything good is served with bad for these Phillies. Forty minutes before that first pitch, Chase Utley was scratched from the lineup with what the team described as "discomfort on his right rib cage." The severity of the injury will not be known until Wednesday. Any extended absence would be a critical blow. Utley leads the team with an .814 OPS.
For one night, Manuel could look down at his lineup card with content. Ryan Howard, back after a two-game absence because of knee inflammation, delivered in a key moment when he stroked a two-run single to right. That came in a four-run seventh inning that sealed the victory.
The pressing issue afterward was Utley. His injury is the latest cruel twist in an ill-fated season. He was hurt during batting practice. That it was not an injury to his knees came as a modicum of relief. Utley has chronically injured knees that cut into his last two seasons.
"When he took a swing, he kind of felt a little burn, a pain in his rib cage," Manuel said. "Hopefully, we don't lose him for very long."
The Phillies need every possible offensive weapon. They are scoring 3.57 runs per game, the franchise's fewest since 1972, when they averaged 3.22 runs.
Jose Fernandez represented the Marlins' brightest hope Tuesday. He had pitched 13 scoreless innings with three hits allowed and 14 strikeouts in two previous starts against the Phillies. His streak of zeros ended in the fourth, when Delmon Young smashed a curveball - the fifth consecutive one Fernandez threw him - just to the left of the psychedelic home run sculpture in center field.
The homer snapped an 0-for-11 skid. Young is hitting .214. When asked if he was close to finding his stroke, he said, "I hope so."
"We think Delmon can hit," Manuel said. "He's 27 years old. He's got a lot of baseball left in him."
The Phillies were patient with Fernandez. Miami is limiting the pitcher's workload in his rookie season. He permitted just one run but threw 79 pitches in five innings. When the opportunity to pinch-hit with runners on base arose, Marlins manager Mike Redmond gambled. It spawned a sacrifice fly.
"We didn't tear him up," Manuel said. "Maybe one of the best things was they took him out."
Duane Below, a 27-year-old righty waved by Detroit in April, was charged with three runs in his season debut. Ryan Webb, a difficult sinkerballer, allowed a run for the first time in 171/3 innings.
The damage started in the seventh, when the Phillies loaded the bases on infield singles by Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere, and Michael Young. Revere had three hits for the third time this season. His batting average is up to .260 and his OPS is .600.
Miami could not employ the Howard Shift with the bases loaded. Howard ripped one past first base for a two-run single. The rally churned from there.
"It was a good day, I'll tell you that," Revere said. "For all of us."
Another win Wednesday is needed to avoid the humiliation of a series loss to the worst team in the National League. And the Phillies may have to try to get it without Utley.
Here is where the Marlins rank among the all-time
Team Season G R R/G
1 Wilmington Quicksteps 1884 18 35 1.94
2 St. Louis Cardinals 1908 154 371 2.41
3 Washington Senators 1909 156 380 2.44
4 Brooklyn Superbas 1908 154 377 2.45
5 Phillies 1942 151 394 2.61
6 St. Paul Saints 1884 9 24 2.67
7 Boston Beaneaters 1906 152 408 2.68
8 St. Louis Cardinals 1907 155 419 2.7
9 Miami Marlins 2013 45 122 2.71
10 Washington Senators 1904 157 437 2.78
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