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Harper ends long drought, Sosa keeps the energy up as Phils Nats pound again

The Phillies trailed early Saturday night, but it didn’t last long against Erick Fedde and the worst pitching staff in the Nationals.

Bryce Harper quickly tied the game in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run blast from the opposite field — one of four Phillies homeruns — and they continued the next inning for good thanks to Edmundo Sosa’s bustle.

With two outs and runners at the corners in the fourth, Sosa dove into first base to avoid a double play and give the Phillies the lead. The next batter, Brandon Marsh, lined out from the top of the wall into right field and Sosa flew around the ball and scored on another headfirst slide. It was an aggressive send from third base coach Dusty Wathan that forced the Nationals to try and make a game they couldn’t.

The Phils won the game 8-5 and improved to 12-2 this season against the Nats.

“Sosa rushed down the line to beat that doubles ball and dances to the double off the wall in rightfield, another great move by Dusty,” said manager Rob Thomson. “Just a really good offensive night.”

Harper’s homer was his first in 102 at bats dating back to June 9. The 102 at bats equates to the longest homerless drought of his career in 2014.

Harper owned Fedde, his former high school and Major League teammate, and went 10 for 19 with six home runs and five walks.

“It was a great crowd tonight, they were electric,” Thomson said. “Harp can do that. He can get a crowd going with one swing.”

Sosa continues to power the Phillies in all phases. He went into the night 10 for 14 with seven extra-base hits in his last four starts and although he went hitless, he had another strong all-around game. Sosa will not be eligible for free agency until 2027. At the very least, it looks like the Phillies have a cheap utility man who is a plus defender everywhere he plays and a non-nil at the plate.

Sosa started at third base for Alec Bohm, who has a minor hip flexor injury, but should be back in the lineup on Sunday. It is beneficial to have a strong defender on third base behind Ranger Suarez, as right-handed batters often pull him. It paid off in the first inning when Sosa brought down Joey Meneses at the plate trying to score on a ground ball from third base. Sosa played back and Meneses ran on contact but failed to score.

Meneses hit a two-run shot off Suarez his next time, but the lefty bounced back from there and went 10 in a row out of the third through sixth innings. He was waived with two outs in the seventh after giving up a few more runs.

Nick Maton secured the Phillies with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Marsh went deep in the sixth.

Harper, Maton and Marsh’s home runs were all in the opposite field. The Phillies are the only baseball team this season to have three different players hit a homerun on the opposite field in the same game.

“That’s important to us — it can’t always be the same people,” said Kyle Schwarber, who hit his 37th homer of the year in the eighth inning. “Over the course of 162 games, different people will stand up.

“I guarantee you on some points, me, Rhys (Hoskins), Harp, we could be 0-for but we still need to win a game and need someone to step up. If we can just find a way to get there come (the play-offs), anything can happen. I hope it’s another person that no one outside the clubhouse thinks will step up. That’s great for us.”

The Phillies are 77-62 and 9-4-1 in their last 14 series. They remain 3½ games ahead of the Brewers for the final wildcard spot in the National League.

The Phils go for a sweep on Sunday when Aaron Nola (9-11, 3.35) takes on soft throwing veteran Aníbal Sanchez (2-5, 4.56). They only have six home games left after Sunday – two with the Blue Jays and four with the Braves.

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