WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals proved just what the collapsing Phillies needed on Friday afternoon.
The Phillies defeated Rain and the Nationals 5-1 in the first game of a doubleheader in the nation’s capital.
Bailey Falter had a strong start and Rhys Hoskins drove an early run with his 30th homer and a late run with an RBI single.
The win pushed the Phillies’ lead over the Milwaukee Brewers to a game in the battle for the third and final wildcard spot in the National League. The Phils are holding a tiebreaker over Milwaukee, so that puts their magic number for entry into the postseason at five. There could be more movement in the race later Friday night as the Phillies play the second game of their doubleheader against the Nationals and the Brewers hosting Miami.
The Phillies stumbled into Washington, losing five straight and ten to their previous 13. They had been “embarrassed”—to use Jean Segura’s word—for the past three days at Wrigley Field, scoring just three runs while being swept by the Cubs.
On paper, the humble Nationals (54-102) thought this was the recipe the Phillies needed to get better — or at least start feeling better. The Phils had dominated Washington this season with 13 wins in 15 previous encounters. The Game 1 win improved the Phils to 14-2 against the worst team in the majors. They have to keep pouring it into the nightcap and throughout the rest of the four-game series.
Of course, the weather could be a problem if the remnants of Hurricane Ian start arriving in the Washington area. Rain is forecast Friday night and all weekend.
Update: Game 2 Friday was postponed due to rain. The Phillies and Nationals will play a separate admissions doubleheader on Saturday at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM
The Phillies didn’t hit a homer and had only two extra-base hits in Chicago. Hoskins broke the homerless drought with a solo blow to Erick Fedde in the first inning. Later in that inning, JT Realmuto stole his 19th and 20th base and became only the second catcher in big league history to reach 20 steals and 20 homeruns in the same season. Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez hit 35 home runs and stole 25 bases in 1999.
Brandon Marsh doubled out and scored on a grounder by Segura in the fourth and the Phils shoved in an unearned run in the sixth before Hoskins drove a run home in the ninth.
Falter threw six shutout innings and gave up only three hits. He walked two batters and struckout six. The left-hander was excellent in a fill-in role. The Phils are 7-2 in their last nine starts.
Zach Eflin, Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez capped it off. Dominguez was not sharp. He loaded the bases before ending the game with a strikeout and a groundout.
Noah Syndergaard will start the nightcap for the Phillies against righthander Tommy Romero, who will make his second big league start.
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