When Brandon Marsh looked at the lineup card Saturday, he had to be excited.
It seems like every player who bats ninth is ultra-successful for the Philadelphia Phillies these days.
Marsh hit a home run, double, single and drove in two runs to propel the Phillies past the Washington Nationals 8-5.
The Phillies (77-62) will look for the three-game series sweep on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Players such as Marsh, Edmundo Sosa, Nick Maton and Dalton Guthrie have been thriving lately out of the No. 9 spot. Sosa recently had hits in seven straight at-bats, and Guthrie recorded his first two career hits on Friday.
“Just keeping it simple and offering at pitches good to hit,” Marsh said on a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It’s easier said than done. Gotta trust the work you’re putting in the cage.”
Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said Marsh’s production is hardly a coincidence.
“Brandon’s a diligent worker,” he said. “We’re seeing some good things out of him.”
Bryce Harper was given the day off Friday, and he responded with a two-run home run on Saturday. It was his first homer since being out for two months with a broken left thumb. Harper’s last home run came on June 9.
“He was a little fresher today. He had a good day,” Thomson said of the reigning National League Most Valuable Player.
The Phillies will hand the ball to right-hander Aaron Nola (9-11, 3.35 ERA) on Sunday. In his most recent start, against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, he allowed four hits and one run with 10 strikeouts and two walks in 6 2/3 innings.
Nola is 7-8 with a 3.99 ERA in 27 career starts against the Nationals.
The Phillies are expected to activate closer Seranthony Dominguez from the injured list in time for Sunday’s game. Dominguez had been dealing with right-triceps soreness.
The Nationals (49-91) will aim to avoid a series sweep on Sunday.
Washington has struggled mightily against the Phillies this season, losing 12 of the first 14 games.
Joey Meneses hit a home run, double and knocked in two runs while Lane Thomas had three hits and two RBIs for the Nationals in Saturday’s three-run loss.
Luis Garcia was given the game off and Cesar Hernandez scuffled defensively in his place at second base.
“I just wanted to give (Garcia) a break,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ve got a day game (Sunday). I’m going to periodically give these guys a day, so today was his day. Day game tomorrow. But he’s doing fine.”
Following two errors and other gaffes, the Nationals lost. Again.
“I’ve said it before — this group doesn’t quit,” Martinez said. “They’re going to play for 27 outs.”
Veteran right-hander Anibal Sanchez (2-5, 4.56) is scheduled to start for the Nationals on Sunday.
In Sanchez’s most recent outing, against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, he was effective in five innings as he allowed two hits and no runs.
“We’ve got a pretty good team,” Sanchez said after the start. “I know it doesn’t show in the numbers.”
Sanchez is 7-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 27 career starts against the Phillies dating to 2006.
Martinez said pitcher MacKenzie Gore will make a rehab appearance Sunday for Triple-A Rochester. Gore, who has been out with lef- elbow inflammation, was acquired by the Nationals in the blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres for Juan Soto last month.
–Field Level Media