PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel has tried to handle Placido Polanco carefully this season, giving him days off to keep him healthy, but nothing has gone according to plan for the Phillies.

Polanco could not play Monday because of stiffness in his lower back, which has bothered him for several days. The severity of the injury is unclear, although Polanco spent time on the disabled list last season with lower back inflammation and was scheduled to see team physician Michael Ciccotti. Polanco previously missed time this season because of an injured wrist and ankle, although he has not been on the DL.

Polanco is hitting .255 with two home runs, 19 RBIs and a .628 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. His OPS is 119 points below his career average.

Asked if Polanco can still be an everyday player, Manuel said, "The last couple years, it's been tough for him to stay on the field. Polly used to be a guy that was set on playing every day. I'm sure when he's hurting and he can't play, it bothers him."

Since going 2-for-4 on June 4 to push his batting average to a season-high .294, Polanco has hit .184 with eight RBIs and a .494 OPS.

"Every now and then when he does hit a ball hard it seems like somebody catches it," Manuel said. "It seems like he's always having to beat something out. He hasn't been getting a lot of hits. At times, he puts the fat part of the bat on the ball still."

Ty Wigginton started at third base Monday night, batting seventh.

Clock ticking down on decision from Hamels

PHILADELPHIA -- Eight days remain before the non-waiver July 31 Trade Deadline and Cole Hamels remains unsigned.

The Phillies need to know his plans soon.

Sources said the Phillies have offered Hamels a six-year deal. FOXSports.com reported Monday that Hamels is "conflicted" about his decision, which could be read any number of ways. But it sounds at the very least like the Phils' offer has caught Hamels' attention, which means they still have a chance to sign him.

After all, Hamels hasn't said no.

Not yet.

But if Hamels does not want to sign, the club needs to know quickly so it can shop him and find the best package possible in a trade.

Hamels could be conflicted because he is so close to free agency, where he could score an even bigger payday, or he could be conflicted based on the direction of the team. The team is losing and getting older, and if the Phillies spend money on a big deal for Hamels, he might wonder how much financial flexibility they have to fill other holes on the roster.

Utley, Howard make fourth consecutive starts

PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are looking more like everyday players.

Utley and Howard both started their fourth consecutive games in as many days Monday in the Phillies' series opener against the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. Previously, Howard, who is coming back from a left Achilles injury, had not started more than two consecutive days, while Utley, who has knee issues, had not started more than three consecutive days.

"Somewhere along the line, I've got to turn them loose," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But at the same time, I don't want to overdo it. I don't want them to have a relapse and stuff like that. But sooner or later, I've got to them play four games in a row. Figured we'd try today."

The move paid off as Utley and Howard drilled back-to-back homers in the first inning, and Howard hit a clutch two-run single in the ninth as the Phillies rallied for a 7-6 win over the Brewers.

Savery relishes first Major League victory

PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Savery finally got one.

He had pitched in 17 games this season before Monday's 7-6 victory over the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies lost every one of those games, which is a quirky coincidence for the organization's 2007 first-round Draft pick. But not only did Savery snap that streak pitching the ninth inning Monday, he also got his first Major League win.

It was a big moment for Savery, who switched from pitcher to first baseman briefly last season before giving pitching another shot and making his big league debut late last season.

"It was an emotional moment," he said. "I'd like to think I don't take these things for granted. I've been bad way more than I've been good, so I really feel like I'm going to savor this moment -- no pun intended. It's something that a lot of people dream of. It's just one of those things."

Worth noting

• Phillies catcher Brian Schneider, who is on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday with Class A Clearwater.

• Left-hander Raul Valdez, who has a strained right hip, will begin a rehab stint Wednesday with Double-A Reading.