Harper ends long drought, Sosa keeps the energy going as Phils beat Nats again – NBC Sports

Harper ends long drought, Sosa keeps the energy going as Phils beat Nats again - NBC Sports

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

Bryce Harper quickly tied the game in the bottom of the third inning with an opposite-field, two-run blast — one of four Phillies home runs — and they went on 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 leadoff slide. It was an aggressive send-off from third base coach Dusty Wathan that 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 pushing down the line to beat out that double play ball and then pushing on the double off the right-field wall, great send-off by Dusty again,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Just a really good offensive night.”

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

Harper owned Fedde, his former high school and major league teammate, going 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 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 although 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 a cheap utility man who is a plus defender everywhere he plays and a non-zero hitter 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 on Sunday. It’s helpful to have a strong defender at third base behind Guard Suarez considering how often 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 played back and Meneses ran on contact but was well short of scoring.

Meneses hit a two-run shot off Suarez his next time up but the left-hander 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. Swamp deepened in the sixth.

Harper, Maton and Marsh’s home runs 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. “There are going to be different people stepping up over 162 games.

“I guarantee you at some points, me, Rhys (Hoskins), Harp, we could be 0-for, but we’ve still got to go win a game and need somebody to step up. If we can just find a way to get there (the playoffs), anything can happen. I hope it’s another person that nobody outside the clubhouse thinks is going to 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-throwing veteran 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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