June 7, 2023

Offense backs up Zack Wheeler with four homers in Phillies’ win over Nationals


AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Zack Wheeler pitched into the eighth inning and got assists from Hector Neris and Jose Alvarado in leading the Phillies to a 5-4 road win over the Washington Nationals. 

The right-hander got all the offensive support he needed with four home runs.

The win pushed the Phillies back over the .500 mark at 54-53 and put them 1.5 games of the first-place New York Mets in the NL East as they lost to the Miami Marlins Tuesday night. 

The Phillies have won three in a row with two games remaining in the four-game series in Washington. The Phils return home Friday night for a huge three-game series with the Mets.

Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, Ronald Torreyes, and Bryce Harper all homered for the Phillies.

Segura hit the first pitch of the game — a down-and-in fastball from Patrick Corbin — over the left field wall to set an early tone.

Corbin went toe-to-toe with Wheeler until the seventh when Realmuto and Torreyes both clubbed homers.

Realmuto led off the inning by hammering a hanging breaking ball over the wall in right-center. The Phillies’ catcher is heating up. He has nine hits and seven RBIs in the last three games.

After Realmuto’s homer in the seventh, Alec Bohm then drew a walk and came around to score when Torreyes launched his career-high fifth homer over the wall in left center. 

Torreyes started in place of Didi Gregorius at shortstop as manager Joe Girardi loaded up on right-handed bats against the lefty Corbin. His homer gave the Phils a 4-0 lead.

The Nationals pushed across a couple of runs against Wheeler in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 4-2 game, but Harper extended the lead back to three with a solo shot to left-center in the eighth. 

Harper, who played seven seasons in Washington before signing a massive deal with the Phillies in 2019, heard it from the fans all night. After rounding the bases, he blew the crowd a kiss.

Harper’s 249th career homer proved huge because Wheeler ran out of gas in the eighth and gave up a two-run homer to Josh Bell to make it a one-run game. Neris got two outs to get out of the inning and Alvarado closed it out in the ninth. Closer Ian Kennedy was unavailable after pitching two days in a row.

Wheeler allowed eight hits and four runs over 7 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out five. The victory improved his record to 9-6 in 22 starts. He has a 2.57 ERA. 

Three of Wheeler’s losses this season have come against the Nationals and Scherzer in particular. The three-time Cy Young winner beat Wheeler on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park then was traded later that day to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wheeler had to be thrilled to see Scherzer exit the NL East. 

Scherzer will make his Dodgers debut on Wednesday night against Houston. After that, his next start would come the following Wednesday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, because of course it is. Wheeler won’t go against Scherzer in that one. His next start is scheduled for Sunday in the finale of a very important series against the Mets.

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