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18 Jul 2023

Phillies best Padres In four-game series

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July 18, 2023 Category: Sports Posted by:

After losing game 1 of a four-game series with the San Diego Padres due to a lack of offense, the Philadelphia Phillies corrected that problem and never looked back.

By Chris Murray
For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN

ABOVE PHOTO: Fans cheer for Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper during a baseball game, Sunday, July 16, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In a rematch of the 2022 National League Championship series, the Philadelphia Phillies took their four-game series against the San Diego Padres this weekend.

The series ended on Sunday with the Phillies defeating the Padres 7-6 in a 12-inning game that took more than three hours to play and was delayed by rain for more than two hours. Starter Zach Wheeler went seven innings, giving up three runs and striking out seven. When he left the mound, the Phillies were up 5-3.

But for the first time since June 14, the Phillies bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Reliever Gregory Soto gave up two runs, which led to extra baseball. The Padres scored first in the top of the 10th, but designated hitter Bryce Harper tied the game again with a single in the bottom half of the inning.

After a scoreless 11th inning, outfielder Kyle Schwarber ended the game with a sacrifice fly in the 12th that allowed Edmundo Sosa to score and take the series victory.

It was the third game in a row that the Phillies had taken from the Padres despite a shaky start on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Padres took that game by a score of 8-3 because of the Phillies’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Gregory Soto plays during a baseball game, Sunday, July 16, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After losing that game and going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, the team found itself in a 3-0 hole thanks to a three-run homer from Padres centerfielder fielder Trent Grisham in the second inning. Phillies starting pitcher Ranger Suarez didn’t give up any more runs after that and was confident that the offense would eventually bail him out.

“We try to keep the game close until they explode, and the bats wake up,” Suarez said through interpreter Diego Ettedgui.

They didn’t let him down. The Phillies’ offense woke up from its slumber and scored six runs over the last three innings of the game to come away with a 6-4 win over the Padres in Game 1.

It was the clutch hitting of Phillies leftfielder Kyle Schwarber that ultimately put the Phillies over the top in Game 1. In the bottom of the seventh inning, it was his solo home run that tied the game at 3-3 and it was his go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning that won it for the Phils, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

“At the end of the day when we’re getting to the end, we’re going to keep locking it in and keep trying to grind until the end,” Schwarber said. “One of the things that we hang on to is that we’re never out of a game until the last out is recorded, so we’re going to keep grinding until the very end.”

After Grisham’s home in the second, the Padres scored just one run the rest way on a solo homer by San Diego designated hitter Manny Machado in the top eighth that gave the Padres a 4-3 lead before the Phillies’ heroics in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Schwarber was quick to praise the Phillies’ pitching staff for keeping the team in the game until the offense woke up.

“I thought Ranger did a good job,” Schwarber said. “Obviously, the homer pitch you have to give (Grisham) credit he got to a down and in the sinker, but I thought (Suarez) grinded and then the rest of the guys came and did their thing.”

This was also a game where the Phillies got a spectacular play in the field from rookie centerfielder Johan Rojas. In the first inning, Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a fly ball deep to centerfield that Rojas caught while crashing against the fence in front of the Phillies bullpen. He then had the presence of mind to throw the ball to first base and get his first outfield assist by doubling up Padres lead-off hitter Ha-Seong Kim.

The Citizens Bank Park faithful showed him some love.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Johan Rojas plays during a baseball game, Sunday, July 16, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

“It was incredible,” said Rojas, who was 0-for-three at the plate. “It was the second batter of the game and the excitement from the fans was amazing and it was a special moment.”

In the nightcap of the day/night doubleheader, the Phillies continued to show their offensive prowess in a game that included designated hitter Bryce Harper’s first home run in 38 games. Harper, the 2021 National League Most Valuable Player, reached base in four of his five at bat as the Phillies (50-42) romped to a 9-4 win over the Padres.

Few people were happier to see the ball fly out of the park than Harper’s teammates.

“Everybody was rooting for him because they knew he wanted to hit one and it’s been a while and that’s what he does,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Everybody was rooting for him and when he hit it, there was excitement in the dugout.”

For the game, Harper was 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. While he was relieved to get a ball out of the yard, he was happier about seeing the team on the winning side of the twin bill.

“It is what it is. I think for me personally it’s about hitting the baseball and keep hitting hit hard,” Harper said after the game. “I don’t go out there to hit homers. I don’t really go out there to hit homers. If you try to hit homers, it’s not good. I put a really good swing on the ball tonight and it was able to get out of there. Keep swinging and keep doing my thing.”

With the Padres up 2-1 in the fifth inning, Schwarber, who had a home run and a crucial RBI in Game 1, put the Phillies up for good with a three-run homer, which made the score 4-2. The Phightins scored two more runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to put the game out of reach for the Friars.

Thomson praised his offense.

“(Offense) was really good today, ” Thomson said. “Schwarber big day, (Trea) Turner big day. Harper had a great day. We played some small ball and stole some bases. I thought we did a lot of good things.”

Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (11-3) is now in a three-way tie with Spencer Strider of the Atlanta Braves and Zac Gallen of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the most wins among National League pitchers. While he wasn’t as dominant as he had been in previous starts, Walker managed to win his seventh straight game, allowing just two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks.

“I didn’t have my stuff. I wasn’t in the zone a whole lot, but I made some pitches when I needed to, the defense behind me did a great job and got some timely double plays and I was able to keep the team in the game,” Walker said. “It’s really hard to sweep a doubleheader… the offense was really good today in both games and the bullpen did a good job of picking me up these last four innings.”

Meanwhile, Johan Rojas continued to show why the team had brought him up from Double-A.
After going 0-for-3 in Game One, Rojas got his first major league hit and first major league RBI in the nightcap. He had three hits altogether.

“I didn’t have a hit in the first game, but the one you need to know about me is that I am going to give my 100 percent every single time,” Rojas said through the Phillies team interpreter Diego Essedgui. “The first game I didn’t have a hit, but the second game it happened. It was great.”

The series win put the Phillies a half-game out of the final National League Wild Card spot, thanks to losses by the Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks. But they face a big test when the Milwaukee Brewers, the leaders of the National League Central, come to Citizens Bank Park starting tonight.

The starting pitchers will be Julio Teheran for the Brewers and Aaron Nola for the Phillies and you can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia starting at 6:40 p.m.

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