The Phillies ended their four-game series in D.C. the way they started it, coming back in the ninth inning to beat the Nationals and finish off a sweep.
After scoring five in the ninth inning Monday to win in Washington, the Phillies scored four in the ninth off of new Nats closer Kyle Finnegan in Thursday's 7-6 win.
With 53 games to play, the Phils find themselves a half-game behind the Mets for first place in the NL East. The Mets, after dropping three of four in Miami and losing six of eight, are in town this weekend for the most important series of the season to date. The Phils can finish the weekend anywhere from 2½ games ahead of the Mets to 3½ back.
J.T. Realmuto, who along with Bryce Harper is scalding at the plate, tied the game with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth.
After an intentional walk to Harper, Rhys Hoskins delivered the game-winning hit, a two-run double.
"This is fun, man," Hoskins said after the game. "We’re playing really good ball right now. We’re right in the race. This is gonna be a fun weekend back home. This is a big win. It’s hard to sweep a four-game series on the road.
"You've got to come up with some big hits and have some magical moments (to win a division). I don't think we're done with those this year."
Realmuto has driven in 12 runs in his last eight games, hitting .406.
Harper has reached base in 35 of his last 58 plate appearances with 12 extra-base hits, including a homer Thursday.
Hoskins returned in the series from a groin injury and has hit for power with a two-run homer and a double Wednesday, then three more hits including the game-winner in the series finale.
"It just seems like we’re playing really, really good team baseball," Hoskins said. "We’re moving runners, getting guys in from third, making pitches when we need to. We never feel like we’re out of the game."
Odubel Herrera doubled to begin the ninth and Ronald Torreyes, who continues to be in the middle of late-game rallies, reached via error to set the table.
"It seems like whenever the guys at the bottom of the lineup come up in the ninth inning, they get on and spark the rally," Realmuto said.
Since July 1, the Phillies’ offense leads the majors in runs scored, doubles, extra-base hits and walk rate. They're second in OPS, have the second-fewest swings-and-misses over that span and the fourth-most home runs.
The Phillies overcame three errors and a poor start from Aaron Nola, who hung a few too many curveballs and was unable to hold an early two-run lead. He began the day with three scoreless frames before facing eight hitters in the fourth and surrendering a three-run home run to Josh Bell in the fifth.
Nola has a 4.49 ERA through 22 starts and has not delivered three consecutive quality starts (6+ IP, 3 ER or fewer) this season. His last two starts had been strong and he was facing an inexperienced, depleted post-trade deadline Nationals lineup, but his season-long search for consistency continues.
Archie Bradley allowed a run and had the tying run in scoring position with one out in a high-stress ninth inning but escaped for the save. The Phillies were trailing in the top of the ninth before the comeback and did not want to get both Bradley and Ian Kennedy hot in the bullpen in case they didn't need them, which is why the nod went to Bradley.
The Phils are 56-53 as they enter the weekend showdown with the Mets, who have spent 108 days atop the NL East, including every day since May 8. The division is a true three-team race over these final 50-odd games.
The Mets are susceptible. Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor are injured. Michael Conforto is hitting .200. Catcher James McCann has not been productive. Noah Syndergaard still hasn’t pitched. Javy Baez, who was 0 for 5 with five strikeouts Thursday, leads the majors in K’s and is not having as strong a season as he did from 2018-20.
There should be some energy at the ballpark this weekend. “I hope that place is rockin’ all the way to the top,” Harper said postgame.
It’s Kyle Gibson vs. Marcus Stroman Friday night.
"It’s gonna be great, we can’t wait to get back home," Hoskins said. "I haven’t had much of it in my time here, but we’re ready for it. I’m excited to see what The Bank is like during a meaningful series against the Mets in August."