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Utley injured as Phillies lose to Reds

CINCINNATI - The Phillies' clubhouse was quiet, as it typically is after any loss, Monday's 7-3 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds included. But this was a different kind of silence.

CINCINNATI - The Phillies' clubhouse was quiet, as it typically is after any loss, Monday's 7-3 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds included. But this was a different kind of silence.

Everyone was thinking it. Shane Victorino was the first to say it.

"Hopefully, Chase is not seriously, seriously hurt," Victorino said. "For him to leave a game, he's the last guy who is going to take himself out of a game."

And that's exactly what happened in the ninth inning. Instead of Chase Utley leading off, Juan Castro pinch-hit. After the game, the team disclosed that Utley had injured his right thumb on a headfirst slide in the fourth inning as he tried unsuccessfully to stretch a single into a double.

The second baseman will have an MRI exam on his hand Tuesday in Cincinnati, according to Scott Proefrock, the Phillies' assistant general manager. That will determine the severity of the injury.

But Utley, who has played through his share of injuries, may have provided enough context as to how serious this injury could be when he did not bat in the ninth.

Utley, whom Phillies ace Roy Halladay just days ago dubbed "the driving force behind this team," could only gut it out for four innings.

That's more than enough to quiet a clubhouse.

"Like Shane said, he's one of the last guys who is going to take himself out unless there is something really bothering him," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "I hope it's not serious."

Utley declined to comment through a Phillies spokesman, saying he wanted to wait until he knew more about the injury to speak.

The injury overshadowed what was an uninspiring performance all around by the Phillies at Great American Ball Park.

Kyle Kendrick retired the first nine Reds batters on just 35 pitches and it looked as if the Phillies' fifth starter could cruise against first-place Cincinnati.

That good rhythm ended when Kendrick faced the Reds' lineup for the second time.

In the fourth inning, Cincinnati mashed three straight hard-hit balls and scored twice on former Phillie Scott Rolen's 300th career home run that hit off the left-field foul pole.

Kendrick's promising night was no longer promising.

In 61/3 innings, he allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits. Kendrick has a 6.04 ERA in his last four starts. With lefthander J.A. Happ possibly nearing the end of his rehab assignment for a strained left elbow, has Kendrick made his last start?

"We'll talk about who's going," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That'll come up sometime when we have to make a move. So far, we haven't talked a whole lot about it."

Happ is just one of many injured Phillies. From Placido Polanco and Ryan Madson to Chad Durbin, Carlos Ruiz, and six currently active players who were hurt earlier, injuries have played a huge part through 74 games.

Now add Utley to the list.

"It's crazy," Howard said.

Both Howard and Victorino said they did not notice Utley favor his hand after the fourth inning. Manuel said he was fine with Utley trying to stretch the single into a double.

Utley, who insisted he was not injured during a monthlong slump at the plate, has reached base safely in 15 straight games. His batting average is back up to .277 after dropping as low as .256 on June 13.

But after Monday's game, all that was left amid the silence was hope for avoiding the worst-case scenario - losing Utley for an extended period.

"We're going to keep going," Victorino said. "That's why we have 25 guys. We'll see what happens."

Utley's a Gamer

Since his first call-up to the Phillies in 2003, Chase Utley has had only one long stretch on the disabled list.

In 2007, he suffered a broken right hand when he was hit by a pitch from Washington's John Lannan. Utley spent from July 27 to Aug. 27 on the DL.


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