PHILADELPHIA (AP) – All-Star second baseman Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 32 games Monday with a single in the sixth inning of the Phillies’ 15-2 loss to the Florida Marlins, the second-longest streak in team history.

Utley went 0-for-2 against starter Josh Johnson before he singled off the glove of diving second baseman Dan Uggla. Uggla smacked his hand against the grass and Utley extended the longest streak in the major leagues this season.

Utley went 1-for-3 and was replaced by Danny Sandoval in the seventh. Manager Charlie Manuel decided to rest his second baseman on a steamy day with the game out of reach and a long road trip ahead.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has the longest Phillies streak at 38 games – the final 36 of last season and the first two this year. Ed Delahanty had a 31-game run in 1899.

Utley will have to continue the streak on the road. The Phillies open a three-game series Tuesday at St. Louis and don’t return home until Aug. 11.

For wishful thinkers, games No. 56 and 57 would be Aug. 25 and 26 in New York against the Mets, barring any rainouts. Only 20 players since 1876 have longer consecutive-game hitting streaks in a single season.

Utley electrified the Phillies fans with his torrid hitting and he received huge ovations with every at-bat. But he struck out swinging in the first inning against Johnson and flied out to right in the third.

But the small afternoon crowd of 20,956 drowned out the opening chords of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” when Utley came to hit in the sixth. He ended the drama and kept the streak going.

He showed no emotion, much like he has for most of the streak. The superstitious Utley has steadfastly refused to talk about the streak or his overall hitting. He’s sometimes humorously deflected questions about the chase to pass Rollins with answers about the weather or the starting pitching, if he even answers at all.

“A hit’s a hit,” he said.

Well, he’s had plenty of them. Utley is hitting .404 (55-136) with 20 multi-hit games, nine homers and 29 RBIs during the 32 games. Utley’s last hitless game came on June 21 against the Yankees.

“His approach to it is a lot different than mine,” Rollins said. “You’ve got to have fun with it. You never know if you’ll get that type of thing going again or if it warms you up for a second run.”

The Phillies can only hope Utley has a lot more offensive milestones left in him.

Along with NL home-run leader Ryan Howard, they’ve viewed as the future of the franchise. With Utley now filling the traded Bobby Abreu’s three-hole spot in the lineup and Howard batting fourth, the Phillies might not have to worry about those positions for a decade.

“I like Chase and Howard hitting three-four,” Manuel said. “I think Utley can be a big ribbie guy.”

Despite not becoming the everyday starter until June, Utley hit .291 with 28 homers, 39 doubles and 105 RBIs last year.

“I think he’s been locked in for two years,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s a great young hitter.”

Utley, the 15th overall pick by the Phillies in the 2000 amateur draft, nearly saw the streak end Friday against the Marlins. He popped out to second base, was hit by a pitch and walked in his first three plate appearances before he singled in the eighth inning.

AP-ES-07-31-06 1608EDT

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