PHIALDELPHIA -- Jonathan Papelbon not only caught some attention for blowing his second save in three tries Wednesday, but also for what he said afterward.

Papelbon, who is in his second season as the Phillies' closer, stressed fundamentals after the loss. Papelbon said that he was surprised with how far in first baseman Ryan Howard was when he was facing the Nationals' Denard Span to start the ninth. Span singled past Howard on a playable ball and went on to score the tying run. The Nationals beat the Phillies, 6-2.

After an off-day on Thursday, manager Charlie Manuel was asked about his closer's comments before Friday's opener vs. the Mets. Manuel said that he is someone who has always stressed fundamentals, and he thought Howard was in a good position because Span is always a threat to lay down a bunt.

"Although the count was 3-1, Span is a bunter and he likes to bunt," Manuel said. "And he also likes to bunt against us, if you follow baseball. Howard was up in the right spot."

Utley returns to Phillies lineup after month on DL

NYM@PHI: Utley makes a nice play in the seventh

PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time in a month, Chase Utley's name was penciled in the Phillies' batting order.

The star second baseman, who had been on the disabled list since May 23 with a strained right oblique, batted second and went 0-for-5 in the Phillies' 4-3 loss to the Mets in Friday's opener at Citizens Bank Park.

"I had some opportunities to drive in some runs, I didn't do that," Utley said. "But overall picture, I feel good, I feel like I can contribute."

Utley had spent the last two days rehabbing with Double-A Reading, and though he went hitless in nine at-bats, manager Charlie Manuel said he thinks Utley will be just fine.

"I'm very happy to have him back," Manuel said.

Utley -- who is hitting .264 with seven homers and 25 RBIs this season -- had not played since May 20 and missed 28 games. The Phillies went 14-14 with the five-time All-Star sidelined.

The Phillies lacked production from Utley's replacements when he was out as his fill-ins combined to hit a mere .179 (21-for-117).

Utley also dealt with ailments last season and didn't make his season debut until June 27. But he said he's playing with "no reservations" after his first game in Double-A. Utility infielder Michael Martinez, who appeared in just six games, was sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Utley on the roster.

With the return of Utley, Jimmy Rollins moved back to the leadoff spot of the order, while Michael Young batted third and Ben Revere, who has been producing from the top spot in the order recently, slid down to the No. 7 hole.

"Michael Young in the last few games has hit some doubles, and things like that," Manuel said. "He has a quicker bat, and we definitely couldn't line up those left-handed hitters in a row. I was looking for the best balance possible we could have, and I thought being in the seventh hole would get [Revere] free to run."

Frandsen to see decrease in playing time

WSH@PHI: Frandsen's nice play at second gets Rendon

PHIALDELPHIA -- The return of Chase Utley will equate to less playing time for Kevin Frandsen, but that is not going to change the infielder's approach when he comes to the ballpark.

Frandsen, a utility infielder who has played in 43 games this season, was the Phillies' starting second baseman six times in the past week. He entered Friday hitting .274 this season and is batting .375 with a .464 on-base percentage in June.

The 31-year-old has started just seven times, but he said he is working every day to pounce on an opportunity whenever it arises.

"I know I'm good enough here, I can play at this level at a great level," said Frandsen, who has played in 326 Major League games in his career. "That's what I believe in myself, and I prepare myself for that."

With Utley rejoining the Phillies on Friday after missing a month with a strained oblique, manager Charlie Manuel acknowledged he will not use Frandsen as much, but he added Frandsen has "definitely been the Phillies' best hitter off the bench."

In 2012, Frandsen hit .338 over 55 games after the Phillies called him up from Triple-A in July.

Worth noting

• Friday marked the 998th time Utley and Jimmy Rollins started together as a shortstop-second baseman combo. That ranks them second among active pairs. The Yankees' duo of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano is first with 1,036 games.

• The Phillies entered Friday on a five-game winning streak against the Mets, their longest streak against their division foe since 2009.