Utley, Rollins hit milestones in Dodger blue
Second baseman notches first hit with new club; longtime DP partner records 500th double
HOUSTON -- It's well-worn territory by now, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins roaming the middle of the infield together.
After 12 years together as a double-play duo in Philadelphia red, they looked, at least for one night, just as potent in Dodger blue.
While no one will mistake either for their glory days as perennial All-Stars in Philadelphia, the newly acquired Utley and Rollins each recorded milestones that were the few highlights of another dodgy offensive night for the Dodgers in Houston during a 3-1 loss Saturday.
Utley recorded his first hit with the team -- and first of his career on a team other than the Phillies -- with a one-out ground-rule double in the fifth inning. It was initially ruled a triple before replay showed the ball bounce over the wall and hit the foul pole.
"Situation doesn't change once you're hitting, just every at-bat you're trying to be productive," Utley said. "It's nice to get the first one out of the way here."
Of the two players, Utley has a greater burden of proof. He's the new guy in the clubhouse, playing for his de facto hometown team and coming off a right ankle injury that put him on the disabled list for six weeks.
So a performance where he not only gets a hit, but pelts two other balls in play and makes a couple of ranging defensive plays? That's a good early return for the Dodgers.
"He looks good [health-wise], so he's not a concern of ours," manager Don Mattingly said. "He swung the bat, made nice plays on defense and hit the ball on the nose all game.
"I don't think this is going to get too big for him."
Rollins is about the only Dodger who seems to be swinging the bat consistently right now, as the team is mired in a stretch of three runs in its last 29 innings.
He recorded Los Angeles' first hit of the series with a fourth-inning single and tallied the 500th double of his career and scored the Dodgers' only run in the sixth.
Rollins joined Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre among active players to reach the 500 two-base mark.
"It's a personal thing, that [accomplishment]," Rollins said. "Doesn't mean as much right now without the win tonight."
Rollins has legged out eight of those doubles in the last month, when he's hit .292 with 12 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.
Even as they log new firsts and their careers cross paths again, there's no overt sentimentality between the two.
But they continue to be inextricably linked. After all, they played more than 1,100 games together as Phillies, the most among active double-play duos and the second-most all time behind Detroit's Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker (1,918).
So if the Dodgers' lineup hasn't always looked comfortable at the plate this series, Utley and Rollins look plenty reliable by contrast.
"We played together for  years, so we're fairly familiar, obviously," Utley said. "It comes back quickly. I think we understand each other and what makes us tick.
"It's off to a good start for us."