PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto hit two-run homers, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
The Phillies took three of the four games in the series from the Nationals, including Michael Lorenzen’s no-hitter on Wednesday night. Philadelphia moved 1 1/2 games ahead of idle San Francisco for the top spot in the NL wild-card race.
Philadelphia (64-52) improved to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Phillies are 39-22 since June 1, a win total matched only by NL East-leading Atlanta, which is 39-19 in that stretch.
“I think early on, we have some good at-bats and stuff, but we were getting beat by the homer,” Turner said. “Now, we’re hitting a lot more of them up and down the order. Those are game changers and momentum shifts — especially if they are two- and three-run homer.”
The only sour note in Thursday’s victory for the Phillies was slugger Bryce Harper leaving the game in the top of the fifth inning with what the club called mid-back spasms. He was undergoing evaluation, the team said.
“It’s just day to day,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “I don’t know how it happened. … He didn’t know how it happened.”
After struggling for most of Thursday to cash in on seven walks by Nationals starter Patrick Corbin, the Phillies finally broke through in the sixth when Turner hit his 12th homer of the season into the left-center field bleachers off reliever Andres Machado to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead.
“We had the matchup that we were looking for with Machado throwing the ball well,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “But when you face guys like Turner, you have to execute pitches.”
Turner, a career .295 hitter with a .823 on-base/slugging percentage (OPS) during his first eight years in the majors, entered the homestand with a .235 average and a .657 OPS in the first year of his 11-year, $300 million free agent contract.
Instead of boos, Turner was greeted by standing ovations from the notoriously impatient Philadelphia fan base and has immediately responded with his best stretch of the season. In his last seven games since returning to Philadelphia, Turner is hitting .370 with four doubles, two homers and eight RBIs.
“I would love to keep playing what I think is me and how I’ve played for a while now in my career,” Turner said. “Hopefully, I would like to put those first 100 games behind me and just keep going and playing baseball like a little kid.
“Maybe its the crowd, maybe its the swing, maybe I’m more relax, maybe I’m getting better pitches to hit. I don’t think it’s one specific thing, but everything as a whole is going in better directions and getting in better shape.”
Castellanos followed in the seventh inning with a two-run homer off Joe La Sorsa, his 20th long ball of the season and third in two games. Three hitters later, Realmuto hit his 14th homer of the year to add to the lead. Realmuto had two hits.
Aaron Nola went five innings and allowed one run, but didn’t figure in the decision. Matt Strahm (8-3) picked up the victory for the Phillies.
CJ Abrams, Joey Meneses, Keibert Ruiz and Ildemaro Vargas each had two hits for Washington (50-65). Vargas knocked in both Washington runs with two doubles.
“Patrick kept us in it, but the bottom line is we have to score more than two runs in this ballpark,” Martinez said. “We have to score runs. The bottom of the lineup has to score some runs and in this ballpark, you have to put runs on the board.”
Nationals: RHP Hunter Harvey (right elbow strain) and RHP Tanner Rainey (Tommy John surgery) are scheduled to face hitters this week at Nationals Park. Manager Davey Martinez indicated that Harvey, who has been out since mid-July, could throw about 40 pitches, while Rainey may go anywhere from 20 to 25 pitches.
Phillies: LHP Jose Alvarado (left elbow inflammation) had his scheduled batting practice session postponed on Thursday as storms rolled through the Philadelphia area, wiping out any outdoor work. Alvarado is scheduled to throw batting practice on Friday, with a possible Tuesday rehabilitation assignment starting at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Nationals; Begin a three-game series against Oakland at home on Friday night. RHP Joan Adon (1-0, 4.91) will take the mound against Athletics RHP Paul Blackburn (2-2, 4.35)
Phillies: Open a three-game series at home against AL Central-leading Minnesota. Philadelphia LHP Cristopher Sanchez (0-3, 3.44 ERA) will take the mound against former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 1.80).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb