Nick Williams had the key hit in a big first inning, Zach Eflin picked up where Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta left off, and the Phillies have answered four straight losses with four straight wins.
The Phils beat the Marlins easily on Saturday night, 8-3, after a touching pregame ceremony to induct Roy Halladay and Pat Gillick into the Phillies Wall of Fame.
Eflin continued the theme of strong Phillies starting pitching, allowing three runs over eight innings. Two of them came in his final inning of work.
All told, Phillies starting pitchers in this series have given up just five runs and 10 baserunners in 20⅓ innings with 20 strikeouts.
Over the last five games — vs. the Red Sox and Marlins — Phillies pitchers have a 0.66 WHIP.
"What does a game look like when we're kind of getting every angle? Defense, pitching, bullpen, offense. Tonight is what it looks like," manager Gabe Kapler said. "This is what we can look like when we're clicking on all cylinders."
The Phillies began this series 4-5 on the year against Miami. They're now 7-5, with seven games left against the lowly Marlins.
At 62-48, the Phils are 1½ games ahead of the Braves and six in front of the Nationals. Atlanta lost to Zack Wheeler and the Mets Saturday night, while the Nats split a doubleheader with the Reds.
"It's where we should be, to be honest," Eflin said of the Phils' extending their first-place lead in the NL East. "All we did is win in the minor leagues and we knew that it would transition eventually at the major-league level. It just took a little while to figure out. We plan on staying here, we don't plan on going anywhere."
After a leadoff single by Cesar Hernandez and a Rhys Hoskins walk, Williams deposited a three-run shot (15) to left-center field and the Phillies never looked back.
Williams entered Saturday's game with exactly 600 career at-bats. He now has 27 homers, 98 RBI and an .801 OPS in 666 plate appearances, essentially a full season's worth. There's little doubt at this point that Williams is an everyday corner outfielder and a good one at that. He's still just 24 years old.
It was Hernandez's first leadoff hit in 15 games.
Eflin bounces back
Look, the Marlins are obviously not a major challenge. They've averaged 2.9 runs over their last eight games, been outscored by 37 runs in the last two weeks and have a sub-.290 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.
But you still have to actually record these outs, and Eflin did nothing but attack against the Fish. Through seven innings, he threw just 69 pitches and had six 1-2-3 frames.
Two of the four hits Eflin did allow were homers. Justin Bour went deep to begin the fifth and Miguel Rojas launched a two-run shot in the eighth.
The only thing that kept Eflin from going the distance was that two-run homer in the eighth, which he described as the "dagger" to an otherwise great night. Kapler also wanted to get Adam Morgan some work after Morgan hadn't pitched in nine days.
Eflin is 8-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 15 starts.
Cabrera, Santana, Cesar go deep
Asdrubal Cabrera homered for the first time as a Phillie and the 19th time this season, a two-run line shot to right field.
Cabrera had started slowly with the Phils, going 3 for 23 (.136) in his first six games without driving in a run.
Because of his bat, Cabrera will obviously be an important Phillie moving forward, even with infielders J.P. Crawford and Pedro Florimon working their way back from injuries (see injury update).
Cabrera also made a standout defensive play at shortstop, ranging up the middle, fielding, spinning and throwing out Brian Anderson to start the seventh inning. A play we saw Jimmy Rollins make dozens and dozens of times.
As for Santana, this was his best game in weeks. He went 3 for 4 with a solo homer (17), two singles and two runs. It was just his second three-hit game of the season.
Hernandez's homer was his ninth of the season but his first as a right-handed batter.
"From the number one spot to even the pitcher, we've got really good swings," Cabrera said. "I think we can score on anyone from one inning to the next."
There weren't many dry eyes at Citizens Bank Park when Brandy Halladay, wife of the late Roy Halladay, made a moving pregame speech. In it, she referred to Philadelphia as one of the four places in the world that feel like "home" to the Halladay family, along with Denver, Toronto and their residence in Florida.
Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee told stories. Manuel had a good one about seeing Halladay just past dawn during a series in New York one afternoon. Manuel teased Doc about his hitting and Halladay's response was, "Let's go down to the cage."
The way Charlie told it, the very first pitch he threw Halladay was a line drive back to the L-screen that caught a piece of the manager.
"I guess our hitting session is over," Halladay said.
The Phillies and Marlins finish up their four-game series Sunday at 1:35 p.m.
Aaron Nola (12-3, 2.35) opposes Dan Straily (4-5, 4.41).