In his first game at Citizens Bank Park as a visiting player, Chase Utley hit a grand slam, a solo homer, received two curtain calls and drove in as many runs as the Phillies scored.
Of course he did.
Utley, no stranger to big home runs in dramatic spots, launched a solo homer off Vince Velasquez in the Dodgers' three-run fifth inning and hit a two-out grand slam in their eight-run seventh as the Phils were pasted, 15-5.
Utley received a standing ovation and curtain call after both homers. It was obvious that the scene would be surreal in his return to South Philly, but it still qualified as bizarre to see a visiting player give a curtain call, let alone two. That just speaks to the unique fondness Phillies fans have for Utley after his storied 13-year career here (see story).
Utley has seven career grand slams. His first came in his second career game in Philadelphia. His seventh came in his 780th game in South Philly and first as a Phillies opponent.
The Dodgers scored all 13 of their runs from the fifth through seventh innings.
Velasquez was sharp through four, and he did finish with 10 strikeouts, but he struggled in his final two innings, allowing five runs on three homers. He took the loss against the Dodgers for the second straight week. Velasquez is 8-5 with a 4.14 ERA through 21 starts.
The loss snaps the Phils' four-game win streak. They're 56-64; the Dodgers are 66-52.
Starting pitching report
A week after having his fastball-heavy approach criticized by manager Pete Mackanin, Velasquez featured all five of his pitches in the first inning Tuesday. He struck out the side in the opening frame for the second straight start, but this time he did it by changing speeds and eye levels. Velasquez's velocity ranged from 79 mph with his curveball to 97 with his fastball.
He cruised until the fifth, when Howie Kendrick hit a two-run homer off him to give the Dodgers their first lead. It's the second straight start Velasquez has been victimized by Kendrick, who in the two games is 4 for 5 off him with two homers, a double and five RBIs.
Utley's homer came two batters later. Velasquez rebounded to retire the first two hitters he faced in the sixth, but Adrian Gonzalez hit an opposite-field single and Yasmani Grandal followed with an opposite-field homer. One walk later, Velasquez's night was over at 111 pitches.
Velasquez continues to struggle with high pitch counts. He's averaged 16.9 pitches per inning this season, the ninth-highest figure among all NL starters.
Velasquez has, however, struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings this season. It's the second-highest mark for a starting pitcher in Phillies franchise history, behind only Curt Schilling's 11.3 K/9 in 1997.
Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda (12-7, 3.29) was much better than he was last week in L.A., when he lasted just five innings. The Japanese rookie allowed two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts in six innings.
Elvis Araujo had a disastrous seventh inning, putting five of the six batters he faced on base before being pulled. With the bases loaded, Araujo hit Gonzalez and walked Grandal and Joc Pederson to force in three runs.
Michael Mariot relieved Araujo and allowed an RBI single and the grand slam to Utley.
At the plate
Ryan Howard homered again, giving him 18 on the season and six since the All-Star break. It was a majestic blast into the Dodgers' bullpen, though it didn't mean much in what was then an 11-run game. It was Howard's 375th career home run.
In eight August games, Howard has gone 12 for 27 (.444) with two doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs.
Cameron Rupp provided the Phils' first run, crushing a hanging curveball over the wall in center field for his 14th home run of the season.
Over the last 365 days, Rupp has hit .267/.331/.474 with 19 homers and 55 RBIs in 421 plate appearances. That's solid production from any player in today's offensive climate but especially for a catcher.
Cesar Hernandez also homered for the Phils, his third of the season.
On the bases
Hernandez was caught stealing for the ninth time in 22 attempts. He has a .352 on-base percentage this season but it's essentially a .332 OBP when you factor in all times he has been thrown out stealing.
Leading off for the Dodgers, Utley struck out looking at a fastball in his first plate appearance, flew out weakly to left on a 3-0 count in his second, homered in his third, walked in his fourth and hit the grand slam in his fifth.
The three-game series against the Dodgers continues Wednesday night. Jake Thompson (1-1, 8.68) makes his third big-league start against Dodgers lefty Scott Kazmir (9-6, 4.44).