PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Ryan Howard and Chase Utley homered, Kyle Kendrick pitched three hitless innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 on Friday night.
The defending NL champions returned to Philadelphia for the first of two exhibition games at Citizens Bank Park, and were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of 43,035. They play the Pirates again on Saturday before opening the season on Monday in Washington.
Kendrick lost the competition with Jamie Moyer for the final spot in the rotation, but will fill in for Joe Blanton, who strained an oblique muscle on Saturday. Kendrick relieved Cole Hamels in the fourth inning and threw 21 of his 30 pitches for strikes.
``The competition (with Moyer), obviously, it was good,' Kendrick said. ``It pushed me. I knew coming in what the deal was and what I had to do. I just wanted to focus on having a good spring. I wanted to start the season on a good note. I was happy with the spring I had, but that doesn't mean anything right now.'
Hamels was roughed up in his final spring tuneup, allowing three runs and eight hits in three innings. The 2008 World Series MVP, who struggled at times last season, is slated to pitch April 7 in Washington.
``My whole goal is to go out and throw strikes, try to work the ball on both sides of the plate,' Hamels said. ``It's nice because their lineup is both left and right. I thought I did a good job of throwing the pitches I wanted.'
Hamels said he wanted to work on his cutter and curveball. The left-hander said he feels stronger than he felt at this point last spring, when his training was interrupted by elbow issues.
``It's time to get things going,' he said. ``I feel a lot stronger than in recent years, and that's huge. I had a workout routine that I did every day, and I feel confident that I can throw (my curveball) for strikes. I'm getting more spin on it.'
Ross Ohlendorf pitched five innings for Pittsburgh, yielding five runs and nine hits, including the homers to Utley and Howard.
Andrew McCutchen and Andy LaRoche had two hits apiece for Pittsburgh.
Utley's home run, a shot to straightaway center field, was his first of the spring. He went 3 for 3. Howard hit his fourth home run.
NOTES. The Pirates traded RHP Virgil Vasquez to the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named. The 27-year-old went 1-2 with a 7.62 ERA in spring training. ... The Phillies released 13 minor leaguers on Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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