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

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

The Phillies fell behind early Saturday night, but it didn’t last long against Erick Fedde and the Nationals’ worst major league pitching staff.

Bryce Harper quickly tied the game in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run outburst in the opposite field – one of the Phillies’ four home runs – and they went ahead for good the next inning thanks to the agitation of Edmundo Sosa.

With two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth, Sosa dove headfirst into first base to avoid a double play and give the Phillies the lead. The next hitter, Brandon Marsh, threw a line drive off the top of the wall into right field and Sosa flew around the sacks, scoring on another headfirst slide. It was an aggressive dispatch from third baseman coach Dusty Wathan, which forced the Nationals to try and make a play they couldn’t.

The Phils won the game, 8-5, improving to 12-2 on the season against the Nats.

“Sosa rushes down the line to beat that ball into a double play, then rushes over the right-field wall double, a great send-off from Dusty again,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Just a really good offensive night.”

Harper’s home run was his first in 102 plate appearances since June 9. The 102 plate appearances match the longest non-home run drought of his career in 2014.

Harper owned Fedde, his former high school and major league teammate, with a 10-for-19 record with six home runs and five walks.

“It was a big crowd tonight, they were electric,” Thomson said. “Harp can do that, he can move a crowd with one blow.”

Sosa continues to provide power to the Phillies in all phases. He entered the night 10-for-14 with seven extra hits in his last four starts and although he went hitless, he had another strong all-around game. Sosa isn’t eligible for free agency until 2027. At the very least, it looks like the Phillies have a cheap utility who’s a positive defender everywhere he plays and a non-zero at home plate.

Sosa started at third base for Alec Bohm, who is nursing a minor hip flexor injury but is expected to be back in the lineup on Sunday. It pays to have a solid defender at third base behind Ranger Suarez given how often right-handed hitters fire him. That paid off in the first inning when Sosa took down Joey Meneses at the plate trying to score from third on a ground fly. Sosa was playing from the back and Meneses was running in contact but was far from scoring.

Meneses hit a two-point shot from Suarez his next time, but the southpaw bounced back from there, going 10 straight out of the third through sixth innings. He was lifted two out in the seventh after allowing a few more runs.

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

Homers from Harper, Maton and Marsh were all in the opposite field. The Phillies are the only baseball team this season to have three different players hit an opposite-field home run in the same game.

“It’s a big thing for us — it can’t be the same all the time,” said Kyle Schwarber, who hit his 37th homer of the year in the eighth inning. “It will be different people who will intervene throughout 162 games.

“I guarantee you at times me, Rhys (Hoskins), Harp, we might be 0-for, but we still have to go and win a game and need someone to step in. If we can just find a way to get there (the playoffs), anything can happen. I hope that’s another person that no one outside the club thinks is going to come in. It’s great for us.

The Phillies are 77-62, 9-4-1 in their last 14 series. They remain 3 and a half games ahead of the Brewers for the last wildcard spot in the National League.

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

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