We could see Chase Utley at third base soon

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We heard late last month that Chase Utley was starting to take some grounders at third base to see if he could be an option at the position at some point down the road. The experiment could begin pretty soon.

After Utley worked out at third base again this afternoon at Citi Field, manager Charlie Manuel told John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the 33-year-old could play there in a game before the end of the season.

“We could,” Manuel said. “It depends on where we are. The next week will tell us where we are, probably … We’re going to run out of season pretty soon.”

In other words, the Phillies aren’t going to mess around if they feel like they are still in the race. However, after dropping three out of four games to the lowly Astros, the playoffs are suddenly looking like a remote possibility. It might not be long before they start looking ahead to 2013.

While there have been some concerns about Utley’s arm strength, Manuel believes a move to third base could help ease the burden on his knees. If he makes the switch next season, Freddy Galvis would likely take over as the starting second baseman. Galvis showed earlier this year that he was up to the task defensively, but he batted just .226/.254/.363 with a .617 OPS and 29/7 K/BB ratio in 200 plate appearances.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.