Ranger Suarez' move from the bullpen to the starting rotation is off to a good start.
So is the Phillies' four-game series in Washington.
The Phils rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull out a 7-5 win over the Nationals on Monday night and in doing so gained ground on the first-place New York Mets, who lost to the Miami Marlins. The Phils (53-53) are 2½ games back in the NL East.
The Nationals (49-57) waved the white flag last week and held a fire sale. Max Scherzer, gone. Trea Turner, gone. Brad Hand, gone.
Hand was the Nats' closer. A week ago, he would have been in the game, trying to protect his team's one-run lead. The Phillies rallied against his replacements.
The Phils trailed 3-2 entering the ninth inning. Ronald Torreyes and Travis Jankowski both singled against Gabe Klobosits with no outs in the inning. Wander Suero came in and allowed a game-tying double to right-center to Jean Segura.
After an intentional walk to Bryce Harper loaded the bases, J.T. Realmuto (six RBIs in his last two games) put the Phils ahead with a two-run single. The Phils scored two more times in the inning, once on a hit by Alec Bohm. The extra runs proved large when newcomer Ian Kennedy allowed a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
"They grinded out at-bats in that ninth inning," manager Joe Girardi said. "Torreyes got it going. Janko had a big hit and Segura had a really big hit for us. That really set up the whole inning. I give them a lot of credit. They kept going at it, fighting, fighting, fighting. We did a lot of good things in that inning."
Girardi is an admitted scoreboard-watcher. Throughout the late innings, he saw the Mets were losing and knew his team had an opportunity to gain some ground if it could rally.
"I'm sure (the players) had to see it," Girardi said. "It's right in front of them. If they don't see it, I'm a little worried about them."
Bohm admitted that he saw the Mets' score.
"We kind of know what's going on," he said. "But we're more focused on taking care of our business. We can't worry about the Mets or anybody else. We've got to take care of our business and win our games and we'll worry about the rest later."
Suarez, making the move from closer to starter, was limited to three innings as he adjusts to his new role. He did not allow a hit or a run while walking one and striking out one. He threw just 33 pitches.
Girardi thought about sending the lefty out for the fourth inning, but "we decided that was it. Better to be safe than sorry."
Suarez could jump by as many as 30 pitches in his next start.
Hector Neris followed Suarez' three scoreless innings with two of his own and the Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a solo homer by Odubel Herrera.
Enyel De Los Santos gave up a game-tying homer to Andrew Stephenson in the sixth.
The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the seventh and took a 2-1 lead on a wild pitch. However, they got nothing else in the inning as Washington left fielder Yadiel Hernandez gunned down Harper trying to score from third on a fly ball to shallow left.
Washington built on that defensive play and scored two in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Jose Alvarado allowed a pair of hits in the inning then walked Tres Barrera with one out to load the bases.
Girardi brought in Archie Bradley to face pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman, a longtime Phillies killer. Zimmerman (114 career RBIs against the Phils) delivered a two-run single to left on a 2-1 curveball to give the Nats the lead.
Bradley stayed composed, got a double-play ball to end the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth to keep the Phils close heading into the ninth.
For the record, Bradley was not scoreboard-watching. He did not know the Mets were losing.
"I've been here before," he said. "Over in the (NL) West with the Diamondbacks, we would always pay attention to the Dodgers scores. I'm kind of over that, man. I'm so focused on what we're trying to do. I don't care if they win or lose. I care about the Phillies winning. That's what we did tonight.
"Obviously, it's good we gained a game, but we have two months of baseball left to go win this division."