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Lighter work, heavier hitting for Utley

Chase Utley is taking breaks and hitting homers.

Chase Utley rounds third after hitting a solo homer in the third inning. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)
Chase Utley rounds third after hitting a solo homer in the third inning. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Chase Utley has four home runs in his last two games.

Utley homered in each of his first two at-bats yesterday against Atlanta righthander Julie Teheran, just as he did on Sunday against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez. Utley is hitting .448 (13-for-29) in 11 games this spring with four home runs and two doubles.

Interestingly, his back-to-back games with two home runs came with 2 days off in between. Utley didn't play on Monday in Bradenton or on Tuesday in Dunedin.

"I think that's something that will help him, if he happens to get some breaks and some days off, it'll help him stay strong," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's good at staying fine-tuned. Maybe it is something about getting him some rest, and letting him bounce back strong."

Utley, 36, made the All-Star team after a hot start last season, but cooled in the season's second half, hitting .235 with a .674 OPS and three home runs in his last 64 games.

Utley was asked about his lighter workload this spring, which began with him missing 10 straight games while rehabbing from a sprained right ankle.

"Believe it or not, I'm learning some things," Utley said. "So I'm trying to take advantage of some off days, let the body kind of heal a little bit and then ramp it up for game days. Those are things that we'll continue to try to do."

The Phillies beat the Braves, 9-2, with Cole Hamels going six innings, allowing six hits and two runs.

- Ryan Lawrence