PHILADELPHIA – Michael McKenry looks like an everyday player against the Philadelphia Phillies.
McKenry drove in a career-best four runs, including a three-run homer, and the Pittsburgh Pirates spoiled Chase Utley's return by beating the Phillies 11-7 Wednesday night.
Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee also went deep for Pittsburgh. McKenry led the way for Pittsburgh's best offensive performance of the season. Filling in for injured catcher Rod Barajas, McKenry is 9 for 14 with two homers and six RBIs in the first three games of this series.
"I'm seeing the ball well and getting some good swings," McKenry said.
McKenry has raised his average to .238 on 19 hits in just 80 at-bats.
"He's really showed up well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We needed him."
Utley homered in his first at-bat after missing the first 76 games this year because of a chronic problem in both knees. He had three hits, but it wasn't enough on a night the Phillies got more encouraging news about their injured stars.
Former NL MVP Ryan Howard will start a rehab stint on Thursday night and two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay is making progress and could throw off a bullpen mound next week.
Until they're all healthy, it won't be easy for the five-time defending NL East champions.
James McDonald (7-3) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. It was the first time in 15 starts this season he allowed more than three runs, and his ERA climbed from 2.19 to 2.44.
"I'm proud of the way James responded after the two homers," Hurdle said.
Reliever Raul Valdes (2-1) started for the Phillies, who were out of starters because of a doubleheader Sunday. He allowed three runs and two hits in two innings in his second career start. Joe Savery came in and gave up five runs in 2 2-3 innings.
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the first when Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit back-to-back homers.
Utley drove a 2-2 pitch way out to right-center. He got his third standing ovation in a 15-minute span and came out for a curtain call after circling the bases and getting mobbed by teammates in dugout.
Ruiz then hit a drive to left for his 11th homer. That had another sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park buzzing.
It didn't last.
McKenry connected off Valdes in the second to put the Pirates ahead 3-2. McGehee homered off Savery in the fourth and McDonald helped himself with a two-out RBI single to extend the lead to 5-2.
Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and McKenry had RBI singles in the fifth to put the Pirates up 8-2.
But the Phillies rallied against McDonald in the sixth. Hunter Pence had an RBI double and Shane Victorino singled him in to cut it to 8-4.
Jimmy Rollins lined an RBI triple off Jared Hughes with no outs in the seventh. Tony Watson came in and Juan Pierre singled for his 500th career RBI. Utley followed with a single and Ruiz lined an RBI single to right field that Tabata appeared to lose in the lights, cutting the deficit to 8-7.
Brad Lincoln entered and preserved the lead. He struck out Pence, retired Victorino on a fly ball and fanned pinch-hitter Jim Thome.
"Brad has been doing a good job all year," McCutchen said. "We all have a lot of confidence in him."
McCutchen hit a two-run drive off Chad Qualls in the eighth, sending many fans home.
NOTES: The Pirates won for just the third time in the last 19 games in Philadelphia. ... McCutchen leads the majors with a .456 average (31 for 68) against lefties. ... The Pirates had a season-high 14 hits. ...... A.J. Burnett (8-2, 3.24) tries to win his eighth straight start for the Pirates on Thursday afternoon. Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 5.24) goes for the Phillies.
Rob Maaddi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/RobMaaddi