Asche, Utley dealing with season's ups and downs

Outfielder homers in loss to Cards; veteran second baseman's average dips to .182

Asche, Utley dealing with season's ups and downs

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies purposely put Cody Asche's locker next to Chase Utley's upon his big league arrival in 2013.

• Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy Phillies players

They wanted Asche to soak up Utley's experience and knowledge like a sponge. But while they are kindred spirits in many ways, they both have had their share of struggles this season.

Asche homered in the second inning in Saturday night's 10-1 loss to the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. It was his third home run of the season and first since April 22. Asche is hitting .227 with seven doubles, one triple, three home runs, seven RBIs and a .593 OPS in 186 plate appearances. His season included a trip to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he learned to play left field.

Asche's solo home run

"It's not what I expect out of myself, not what I know that I have in me," Asche said. "That gets frustrating at times. I'm not a .230 hitter, I know that. I'm not going to be. It's just a thing you've got to keep working through. Hopefully they keep trusting me and trusting in my ability. Hopefully tonight is a step in the right direction."

Utley went 1-for-4, flying out twice and singling to left field in the eighth inning. Since Utley's batting average reached a season-high .207 on June 2, he has hit .100 (5-for-50) with one double, three RBIs and a .306 OPS.

Utley finished the night hitting .182. According to Stats Pass, only two hitters in baseball history have hit less than .182 with 500 or more plate appearances in a season: Rob Deer, who hit .179 with the 1991 Tigers; and Dan Uggla, who hit .179 with the 2013 Braves. More important, Utley finished the night with 244 plate appearances, meaning he needs only 256 more plate appearances in the season's final 92 games to automatically vest a $15 million club option for next season.

"Just out in front of pitches, hitting fly balls," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about Utley's night at the plate. "It wasn't the best night for a lot of our offensive guys. But for Chase, he was just in the air a lot tonight."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.