Sometimes the stars just align. Fans were treated to a little something extra Thursday when a pair of Philadelphia Phillies All-Stars suited up for the Clearwater Threshers as part of Minor League rehab assignments.
Second baseman Chase Utley and pitcher Roy Oswalt each saw five innings of action in the Class A Advanced Threshers' 7-5 victory over the Palm Beach Cardinals.
Recovering from a knee problem that has sidelined him since Spring Training, Utley slugged a solo homer, walked, scored twice and struck out once in his second Florida State League outing. He was 1-for-4 in his first start Tuesday.
"It's all good so far," Utley said. "I was able to see some pitches, especially in that second at-bat, so hopefully, it's coming."
Oswalt, troubled by lower back inflammation, allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out five over five innings and did not factor in the decision at Bright House Field.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, also rehabbing a lower back problem, was 1-for-2 with a run out of the No. 3 hole.
Five-time All-Star Utley struck out in his first at-bat against Joe Kelly, and he walked and scored in the fourth inning. He then pulled Kelly's first offering in the fifth for a solo homer that landed just inside the foul pole down the right-field line.
For Utley, who last appeared for the Phillies in their 3-2 loss in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, it was his first homer of any kind in more than seven months.
Utley, who recorded one putout at second base, was replaced in the top of the sixth.
"So far, it's recovered pretty well," Utley said of his knee. "I think all things are a test, to do the movements and not try to compensate whatsoever, but so far, it's going okay."
Oswalt, who finished inside the top six in the Cy Young voting in six seasons, was not so sharp in his first Minor League assignment in eight years.
He allowed a leadoff single to Rainel Rosario to start the game, but stranded the runner in scoring position with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. He also worked around a walk in the second and a single in the third -- both with two outs.
The right-hander, 153-84 over 12 seasons in the Majors, was not as fortunate in the fourth. He allowed back-to-back one-out hits to Edgar Lara and Kyle Conley before Juan Castillo snapped a scoreless tie with a run-scoring groundout.
Cracking a smile on the mound when a borderline pitch was called a ball, Oswalt fell into more trouble the following frame. Luis Mateo led off with a single, and he advanced to third on a pair of groundouts. Zack Cox followed with an RBI single and Xavier Scruggs delivered a two-out RBI double.
Oswalt is 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA over five starts with the Phillies this season, but he has not pitched in a Major League contest since being tagged for five runs over three innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 26.
Ruiz, batting behind Utley in the lineup, grounded out to the mound in the first and singled and scored in the fourth. The backstop, who played in extended spring training games earlier in the week, lofted a fly ball to center field in his final at-bat in the fifth before being replaced by Cesar Hernandez.
The trio of big leaguers will earn more than $33 million in wages in 2011. The Threshers stadium, which holds 8,500 fans and opened in 2004, cost $25 million to build.