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

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

Bryce Harper quickly tied the game in the bottom of the third inning with an opposite-field, two-run blast -- one of four Phillies homers -- and they went ahead for good the next inning thanks to Edmundo Sosa's hustle.

With two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth, Sosa dove headfirst into first base to avoid a double play and put the Phillies ahead. The next batter, Brandon Marsh, laced a line drive off the top of the wall in right field and Sosa flew around the bags, scoring on another headfirst slide. It was an aggressive send by third base coach Dusty Wathan, who forced the Nationals to try to make a play they couldn't.

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

"Sosa hustling down the line to beat out that double-play ball and then hustling on the double off the right-field wall, great send by Dusty again," manager Rob Thomson said. "Just a really good offensive night."

Harper's homer was his first in 102 plate appearances dating back to June 9. The 102 plate appearances match the longest homerless drought of his career set back in 2014.

Harper has owned Fedde, his former high school and major-league teammate, going 10 for 19 with six homers 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 provide energy for the Phillies in all phases. He entered the night 10 for 14 with seven extra-base hits in his last four starts and though he went hitless, he had another strong all-around game. Sosa is not eligible for free agency until 2027. At the very least, it looks like the Phillies have an inexpensive utilityman who's a plus defender everywhere he plays and a non-zero at the plate. 

Sosa started at third base for Alec Bohm, who is nursing a minor hip flexor injury but should be back in the lineup Sunday. It's beneficial to have a strong defender at third base behind Ranger Suarez given how frequently right-handed hitters pull him. It paid off in the first inning when Sosa cut down Joey Meneses at the plate trying to score from third on a ground ball. Sosa was playing back and Meneses ran on contact but was well short of scoring.

Meneses hit a two-run shot off of Suarez his next time up but the lefty rebounded from there, retiring 10 in a row from the third through sixth innings. He was lifted with two outs in the seventh after allowing a couple more runs.

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

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

"That's a big thing for us -- it can't just be the same people all the time," said Kyle Schwarber, who hit his 37th homer of the year in the eighth inning. "It's going to be different people stepping up throughout the course of 162 games.

"I guarantee you at some points, me, Rhys (Hoskins), Harp, we could be 0-for, but we still need to go win a game and need someone stepping up. If we can just find a way to get there (the playoffs), anything can happen. I hope it's another person that no one outside the clubhouse thinks is gonna 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 National League wild-card spot.

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

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