Utley helps Lieber remain unbeaten
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- After giving
the lead with his bat,
preserved it with his glove.
Utley snapped a sixth-inning tie with an RBI single and made a game-saving catch in the ninth as the
ended their three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the
Signed to a three-year, $21 million free agent contract during the offseason, Lieber has proven to be an excellent acquisition early, leading the Phillies to an Opening Day victory over Washington and tossing eight strong innings in a triumph over St. Louis on Sunday.
"Lieber's a good pitcher," Atlanta manager
said. "I liked him ever since he was at Pittsburgh and with the Cubbies. He knows how to pitch. He throws strikes on the corners. He just mixes them up and comes right after you."
In this one, he was even better, allowing just one run and seven hits while throwing 55 of 75 pitches for strikes in eight frames. The righthander struck out two without a walk, retiring the first seven batters of the game and facing the minimum through four innings.
"Just making them put the ball in play and having your defense play behind you," Lieber said. "The least amount of pitches that you throw per inning and the guys keeping on their toes, I think you play better defensively."
"I was amazed that he threw 55 strikes and only 20 balls," Phillies manager
said. "That's not heard of too much."
Lieber (3-0) allowed a two-out RBI single by
in the fifth but was given the lead an inning later as
led off the sixth with a homer and Utley delivered a run-scoring base hit with two outs.
started the ninth and yielded a leadoff single to
and former Phillie
on long flyouts.
came through with a single and a wild pitch by Wagner moved the go-ahead run to second. With a chance to give Atlanta the lead, Jordan ripped a line drive up the middle, but Utley dived to his right and snagged it before it hit the ground, sealing the win.
"In that situation, with guys on second and third, you're at least trying to knock the ball down, not let it get past you," Utley said. "Somehow, it stuck in my glove."
"I honestly didn't think (Jordan) hit it that good," Wagner said. "It was a heck of a play by Chase. Saved the game, saved extra innings, saved everything. It was fantastic."
Cox initially did not think Utley caught the ball in the air.
"I thought the ball was hit on the ground," he said. "I thought Utley made a great play on the ground. Turns out he made a great play on a line drive."
Despite the rough inning, Wagner recorded his second save.
(0-3) remained winless since his return to the rotation. However, the former Cy Young Award winner was solid for the second straight start, surrendering two runs and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in seven innings.
"I can't get discouraged with the way I'm throwing," Smoltz said. "Right now, it's the 'Oh so close' (thing) the last two games, coming away with losses. The old me might have panicked a little bit or been a little bit more discouraged, but there's not really a whole lot I can do.
"You're shaking your head at 0-3, but it's not an indication of how I've been pitching, and that's what I've got to keep remembering. Statistics will come around and work out the way they have for my 18 years (in the majors)."
The Phillies nearly took a 1-0 lead against Smoltz in the fourth, but
was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on a two-out double by Utley.