PHILADELPHIA – Chase Utley scored the winning run Sunday afternoon.
A few minutes later in the team's clubhouse as he packed for the All Star break, the Phillies' second baseman and the symbol of the franchise confronted his future. Utley will be a free agent at the end of the season. Fans and media have debated this year whether the 34-year-old should be traded for prospects as part of a rebuilding plan.
"You never know what can happen," Utley said. "But I've never envisioned wearing another team's uniform. Going through this process, your name is thrown out there. But even during this process, I never envisioned wearing somebody else's jersey."
Wins like Sunday's could go a long way toward ensuring that Utley remains in Philadelphia.
John Mayberry Jr. knocked in Utley with a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Phillies defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-3 in 10 innings before 40,151 fans at Citizens Bank Park. Utley began the rally with a leadoff double. Mayberry played in place of Ben Revere, who is out indefinitely with a broken foot.
The Phillies (48-48) are .500 for the first time since they were 31-31 on June 7. The win completed a 10-game homestand in which Philadelphia went 7-3. The Phillies have won four straight series. They trail the first-place Atlanta Braves by 6 games in the National League East. The four-day All Star break begins today.
"We're finding ways to win," Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Earlier (in the season), it seemed like we were finding ways to lose, so that's changed. It got a little sticky there, but Mayberry came up with the big hit and that's all we needed."
A loss Sunday would have soured many fans on the Phillies and provided plenty of negative fodder for the All-Star break.
The Phillies seemed headed for a comfortable win against the White Sox, who at 37-55 have the fourth-worst record in baseball. Philadelphia led 3-0 after six innings and began the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead.
But closer Jonathan Papelbon allowed a two-out RBI single to White Sox catcher Josh Phegly, who came to the plate with a .214 batting average.
Rollins dove for the ball and then laid face down on the grass as Phegly's single rolled into center field. The fans groaned.
The blown save wasted an outstanding effort from Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who allowed two runs in eight innings and even singled in a run.
But Mayberry created an aura of positivity with his two-out single in the 10th.
Philadelphia loaded the bases on Utley's double and intentional walks to Rollins and Ruf.
With one out, Delmon Young struck out with the bases loaded.
But Mayberry then singled on the first pitch fastball to end the game.
"This gives us some momentum, and getting to the .500 mark is also big," Mayberry said.
But even as the Phillies win, their injuries continue to mount.
Revere broke his right ankle Saturday afternoon when he fouled a ball off his foot. He will see a specialist today, but there is speculation he could be gone for the season. The Phillies placed Ryan Howard on the disabled list with a knee injury last weekend. Roy Halladay has been out since May after shoulder surgery.
Even with the injuries and especially after the 7-3 homestand, the Phillies believe they're contenders.
Before the homestand began, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the 10-game stretch would be referendum on the team's future.
There has been plenty of debate among the fans and media about whether the Phillies should be buyers or sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Phillies want to add to their team. They're looking for relievers and, with Revere hurt, a center fielder.
"We're in the buy mode," Amaro said.
Sunday's win capped an exhausting stretch of baseball for the Phillies and White Sox. The teams combined to play 34 innings and throw 1,021 pitches in a little less than 26 hours.
"It was a lot of baseball. The heat was relentless," Rollins said. "I can't wait to close my eyes."
It's a lot easier to sleep after a win.
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