It was a scary moment Thursday afternoon, considering how long the Phillies had waited for Chase Utley's return.
With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs hit a grounder that forced Utley to range to his right. The second baseman stopped the ball, but his knee appeared to lock as he tried to make the throw to first base. Utley held onto the ball.
Everyone else held their breath.
"It looked to me like that ball was hit pretty good, and he kind of snagged it and tried to turn around real quick," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He kind of stumbled."
An inning later, Utley launched his first home run of the season into the right-field seats off reliever Jose Arredondo, so that was a sign the second baseman was OK. He did not talk after the Phillies' 10-4 rout of the Reds.
Utley started three of the four games against the Reds and went 2 for 14. Coincidentally or not, the overall offense surged upon his return, scoring 28 runs in the four games, including 10 each in the series opener and finale.
After three rehabilitation appearances and a day off, veteran reliever Jose Contreras was activated from the disabled list before the game. He worked a perfect ninth inning and struck out one in relief of starter Cliff Lee. Contreras, who has thrown nine scoreless innings and struck out 10 this season, had not pitched since April 21 in San Diego because of a sore elbow.
To make room on the roster for Contreras, the Phillies optioned David Herndon to triple-A Lehigh Valley. Herndon had a 9.28 ERA in 11 appearances before being optioned to the IronPigs in late April. But in three appearances after being recalled, he threw five hitless and scoreless innings. He contributed 21/3 scoreless innings in the 19-inning victory.
Shane Victorino, out of the starting lineup since a May 14 game in Atlanta because of a strained right hamstring, will begin a rehab assignment by playing Saturday and Sunday at single-A Lakewood. He will take Monday off, then play Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at double-A Reading. He is eligible to come off the disabled list next Friday, when the Phillies open a three-game series in Pittsburgh, and he said he believed he would be ready.
"Everything feels good," the centerfielder said.