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Back in Opening Day lineup, Utley hits homer No. 200

ATLANTA -- Chase Utley looked like the old Chase Utley on Monday at Turner Field, so consider that the silver lining in a 7-5 loss to the Braves.

He went 3-for-5 with one triple, one home run and three RBIs, playing in his first Opening Day since 2010 after spending the previous two on the disabled list because of injured knees.

"Same guy," Utley said.

So this doesn't surprise him?

"No," he said.

Utley, whose homer in the fourth was the 200th of his career, joined Ryan Howard in the lineup. Howard missed last season's opener because of an injured left Achilles.

"It's pretty obvious the physical significance of it," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before the game. "But maybe even as importantly, just their overall presence, just having them around, having them active has an immediate impact on our club. You talk about the core players on our team, and they're two very important ones. Missing those guys makes quite an impact, not just physically, but the psyche of the club."

Manager Charlie Manuel agreed, even after the loss. How couldn't he after watching Utley hit the ball hard and run the bases well?

"Yeah, when Ut is on, he's still a real good player," Manuel said. "And tonight he had a good night, and that's great. I'm sure that's going to play a big part in our success down the road."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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