- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PHILADELPHIA | Shane Victorino kidded Jimmy Rollins about taking his job as the leadoff hitter and then backed up his boast.

Chase Utley hit two homers, Victorino drove in a career-high five runs and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 14-7 Wednesday night for their best start in 17 years.

The two-time defending NL champions are 7-1 for the first time since their pennant-winning season in 1993. A potent offense has carried the Phillies — they’ve averaged eight runs per game and have had double-digit hits in all but two.

Victorino, batting leadoff in place of the injured Rollins, was 4 for 5. His two-run shot off Jason Bergmann (0-1) gave the Phillies a 9-7 lead in the fifth. He hit a bases-loaded triple in the seventh to make it 13-7.

“I told him, jokingly, ‘Be careful. I’m going to take that job from you,’” Victorino said. “He helped me on the bench, making adjustments.”

The Phillies put Rollins on the 15-day disabled list with a calf injury before the game. The three-time All-Star shortstop and 2007 NL MVP was replaced by Juan Castro. Rollins is expected to miss two to four weeks.

Victorino, who was the No. 2 hitter until Placido Polanco took that spot this season, had been hitting seventh. He was just 5 for 31 (.161) coming in.

“He had a good day,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “It was just a matter of time. I think you can hit anywhere if you’re a good hitter.”

On a night when neither starting pitcher lasted two innings, Philadelphia’s bullpen was more effective. Nelson Figueroa (1-1) allowed one run in 3 1-3 innings in relief of Kyle Kendrick. Three other relievers combined for four scoreless innings.

The Nationals scored three in the first and three more in the second to chase Kendrick. But the Phillies got four runs in the first and three in the second off Craig Stammen.

“It’s embarrassing to lose leads like that, but the important thing is to bounce back,” Stammen said.

Utley hit a three-run drive in the second to put Philadelphia ahead 7-6 and his solo homer in the sixth off Sean Burnett extended the lead to 10-7. He nearly went deep his next time up, with a flyout to the warning track in center.

Adam Kennedy had a three-run double and Cristian Guzman had two hits and two RBIs for the Nationals.

Kendrick gave up six runs and six hits in 1 2-3 innings. He’s allowed 11 runs in 5 2-3 innings in two starts — both against Washington.

Kendrick, who won 21 games for the Phillies in 2007-08, lost a battle for the fifth starter spot to Jamie Moyer despite pitching well in spring training. He’s filling in for Joe Blanton, who has an oblique injury. Manuel said Kendrick isn’t in danger of going to the bullpen just yet.

“I was bad,” Kendrick said. “I fell behind hitters and wasn’t aggressive.”

Stammen allowed seven runs and seven hits in 1 1-3 innings. He gave up four runs in five innings against the Phillies last week.

Kennedy’s bases-clearing double put Washington ahead 3-0 in the first, but the Phillies answered with four in the bottom half. Ryan Howard singled in two runs. Greg Dobbs had an RBI double and Raul Ibanez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3.

Guzman’s two-run single gave Washington a 5-4 lead in the second. Josh Willingham ended Kendrick’s night with an RBI double.

“That’s a great-hitting team,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’ve got to keep the ball down. When they hit the ball in the air in this ballpark, they’re going to kill you.”

NOTES: Phillies closer Brad Lidge threw a scoreless inning for Class A Clearwater. He struck out two batters and his performance was encouraging news. Lidge is recovering from offseason surgery on his elbow and knee. … Nationals All-Star 3B Ryan Zimmerman missed his third straight game because of a left hamstring injury. … All-Star RF Jayson Werth wasn’t in Philadelphia’s lineup because of a sore hip. He walked as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.

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