Phillies, Nationals try again to complete series

National Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies had to wait an extra day to try and match a feat last achieved 88 years ago.

The Phillies (68-64) will look to remain red-hot on offense Thursday afternoon, when they are scheduled to visit the Washington Nationals (55-76) in the final meeting of the season between the National League East division rivals.

The teams were originally scheduled to close out the season series Wednesday night, but the game was postponed due to the heavy rains lashing the East Coast.

Neither team announced its pitching plans for Thursday. The scheduled starters for Wednesday were a pair of right-handers, Aaron Nola (7-7, 4.30 ERA) for the Phillies and Paolo Espino (4-4, 4.13) for the Nationals.

The Phillies are aiming to sweep the three-game series after overcoming a three-run deficit to beat the Nationals 12-6 on Tuesday night. It was the sixth straight game in which Philadelphia has scored at least seven runs, the longest such stretch for the franchise since a seven-game streak from June 19-24, 1933.

Philadelphia has won five in a row to close within two games of the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East.

The Phillies have heated up despite the absence of Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius — the players who were the second-, fourth- and sixth-place hitters, respectively, in the Opening Day lineup — for much or all of the streak.

Hoskins last played Aug. 25 and is out for the season with a lower abdominal tear that will require surgery. Realmuto missed the past three of the last four games with a sore left ankle, and Gregorius hasn’t played since Saturday after returning to Curacao for the birth of his child.

On Tuesday, the Phillies’ top four batters — Freddy Galvis, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen — combined to go 9-for-20 with one homer, five RBIs and seven runs. The seventh- and eighth-place hitters — rookies Matt Vierling and Rafael Marchan — started in place of Hoskins and Realmuto and went 5-for-9 with a homer, two RBIs and three runs.

“We’ve gotten contributions from everywhere,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

With the Nationals playing out the string after beginning a rebuilding project with a flurry of July trades, manager Dave Martinez is hoping Washington’s pitching can support its lineup in the final month.

The Nationals went 7-20 in August despite scoring at least four runs 19 times — games in which they were 5-14.

“We’re scoring four to six runs every day,” Martinez said. “There was a point in time when we could score four, five runs and come out with a victory. We’ve got to get back to that. We’ve got to find a way to get back to that. It starts with the starting pitching.”

Nola didn’t factor into the decision last Friday, when he allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings as the Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 in 11 innings. Espino earned a win Friday after surrendering one run in five innings as the Nationals beat the New York Mets 2-1.

Nola is 6-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 23 career starts vs. the Nationals. In his lone appearance vs. Washington this year, Nola yielded five runs in five innings in a no-decision on Aug. 5.

Espino is 0-1 with a 7.62 ERA in five games (two starts) against the Phillies, with all but one of those outings occurring this year.

–Field Level Media

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