Sizzling Phillies poised for sweep after Hoskins, Harper lead win over Nats


The Phillies are playing some of their best ball of the season at a very important time.

They made it four straight wins with a 9-5 victory over the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital Wednesday night. 

One day after swatting four home runs, the Phillies clubbed two more as they surged back from an early three-run deficit to win handily.

The victory improved the Phillies to 55-53 as they continued to put pressure on the NL East-leading New York Mets ahead of the teams’ weekend showdown in Philadelphia.

The two teams are separated by just 1 ½ game. 

Before the big weekend series, the Phils must play one more game in Washington. They will look to sweep the four-game series and match a season-high with their fifth straight win Thursday. Aaron Nola will get the start.

Chase Anderson, keeping a spot in the rotation warm for injured Zach Eflin, gave up three solo homers the first time through the Nationals’ batting order and trailed, 3-0, after two innings. 

The Phillies’ offense, which has produced 36 runs during this four-game winning streak, was undaunted by the deficit. 

The Phils jumped Washington starter Paolo Espino for four runs in the third and two more in the fifth to take control of the game.

“I don’t think we ever feel like we’re really out of it,” said Rhys Hoskins, who drove in three runs with an RBI double and a two-run homer. “The guy on the mound tonight, I think he mixed pretty well the first time through, but then he just seemed to leave some more pitches over the plate. We’ve got some good hitters and we didn’t miss pitches in the middle of the plate the second time through and you saw the four-run outburst.”

Anderson pitched just four innings. Matt Moore picked up the bulk of the work out of the bullpen. He came up huge with four innings of two-run ball and that allowed Joe Girardi to get his key relievers some rest. 

“He picked us up big time,” Girardi said of Moore. “He was a big reason we won. That’s the best I’ve seen him throw the ball since he’s been here.”

Moore entered a three-run game with two outs and two on in the fifth. Dangerous Juan Soto could have changed the game with one swing. Moore induced a ground out to get his appearance off to a good start. 

Moore has had an up and down season -- in the rotation, out of the rotation, on the injured list, to the bullpen. He's struggled more than he's succeeded.

“Just in general, any time you’re contributing positively, you feel good about yourself, for sure,” he said. “Especially after the last 11 innings that I had pitched for this club -- they were to the detriment. So, to be able to pull on the rope in the same way everybody else was -- it felt good.” 

Hoskins had an RBI double in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth. He leads the team in homers (24) and RBIs (66). 

“Rhys is a constant,” Girardi said. “He fights through everything. He goes through his struggles and never gives up. He keeps on working and is the same guy every day. We wouldn’t be here without him.”

Didi Gregorius also smacked a two-run homer and Bryce Harper had three hits, including two RBI doubles to leave him with seven extra-base hits in the last four games. He’s up to .306 for the season and is hitting .407 since the All-Star break. 

“He’s been an on-base machine,” Girardi said. “He’s doing everything.”

Nola, who gets the ball in Thursday’s finale, is 6-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 22 career starts against the Nationals. However, he has not faced them this season, which is odd considering rotation mate Zack Wheeler has faced them five times in 2021. Nola has allowed just three runs in 14 2/3 innings over his last two starts. 

Can he push the winning streak to five before the big showdown with the Mets?

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