PHILADELPHIA -- A good pinch-hit can change a game, and in the first half this season, the Phillies have had plenty of them.
Kevin Frandsen came off the bench to give the Phillies the lead in Thursday's 3-1 win over the Nationals with a pinch-hit RBI double. It was Frandsen's Major League-leading 11th pinch-hit, and he also has nine RBIs in those scenarios. He has two walk-off pinch-hits this season.
The Phillies lead all teams with 37 pinch-hits and are fourth in the Majors in pinch-hitter average with a .278 mark.
Laynce Nix has struggled since coming through with some hits off the bench in the beginning of the season, but Frandsen said Nix serves as a good mentor to players on the Phillies bench.
"All of us are ready. We have a great teacher in Laynce, because he's one [heck] of a pinch-hitter, too," Frandsen said. "They keep us prepared down there, and we know there's a moment, that one spot when you're going to have a chance."
Bastardo leading improved Phillies bullpen
PHILADELPHIA -- No matter the inning or the batter, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo says he has the same goal in mind for every at-bat.
"I try every time just to make my pitch," the left-hander said, "where I want to throw it and what I want to throw."
Though Bastardo said he does not like to think of himself of having a specific role in the Phillies bullpen, he has pitched the eighth inning when the team has had the lead lately. Regular setup man Mike Adams is on the 60-day disabled list, which has allowed Bastardo more opportunities to attempt to get the lead to closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Bastardo has been solid for most of the season and has a 2.78 ERA. The Phillies have been better since the calendar turned to July, and so has Bastardo. In five appearances this month, Bastardo has allowed just one run in 4 2/3 innings (1.93 ERA). He also has seven strikeouts, had surrendered just three hits and picked up his second save of the season Tuesday.
"Lately, he's been doing real good, he's been super," manager Charlie Manuel said of Bastardo. "That's what we need."
Utley gets a full night off because of rainout
PHILADELPHIA -- Before inclement weather postponed Friday's contest, Chase Utley was out of the Phillies lineup for the first time since returning from an oblique injury last month.
Utley appeared in 20 straight games since June 21, and manager Charlie Manuel said he just wanted to give the second baseman a chance to rest, especially with White Sox left-hander John Danks on the mound.
"He's been running a lot, running, sliding, running the bases, and I thought it was time for him to get a blow," Manuel said. "Against a lefty, I thought it would be a pretty good time to give him a break."
Utley, a left-handed hitter, has hit .280 with four home runs, five RBIs and a .330 on-base percentage since returning from his injury, which sidelined him for a month. Utley is hitting .275 with 11 homers, 30 RBIs and an .836 OPS this season.
For the first time in his career, Utley committed three errors in one game Thursday. The trio of gaffes came in the game's first two innings, and the first error happened when Utley collided with first baseman Darin Ruf while going for a popup. The next two came on one play, when Utley bobbled a grounder and then made a poor throw to first base.
None of Utley's errors resulted in runs, however, and the Phillies beat the Nationals, 3-1. Kevin Frandsen delivered a go-ahead, pinch-hit single in the victory, and was slated to start at second base and hit sixth on Friday. Frandsen is hitting .295 with 16 RBIs this season.
Second-half rotation options bandied about
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have not announced their rotation following the All-Star break, but here is one possibility that could line up nicely for manager Charlie Manuel:
Right-hander Kyle Kendrick opens the second half July 19 against the Mets at Citi Field, Cole Hamels pitches July 20 and Cliff Lee pitches July 21. Jonathan Pettibone would pitch July 23 in St. Louis, and John Lannan would pitch July 24.
This would give Hamels an extra day of rest following Sunday's start against the White Sox. It also would give Lee regular rest following his expected appearance Tuesday in the All-Star Game and split up lefties Lee and Lannan with Pettibone.
• The Phillies limited the Nationals to 10 runs in their recent four-game series. In the Phillies' three wins, their starting pitchers combined to allow only two runs in 23 innings.
• The Phillies are 5-9 against American League teams, and have been outscored 88-48 in those 14 contests.