|Wheeler has posted a 2.57 ERA this year out of 22 starts. | PHOTO: Len Yancy|
The positive trend continued for the Phillies on Tuesday night as Zack Wheeler pulled off another solid start, and the offense hit four home runs in a 5-4 win over the Nationals.
The victory pushed the club to a game over 0.500 (54-53) while reducing the deficit to 1 1/2 games behind the Mets for first place in the National East League.
“We’re getting there,” Wheeler said. “These are the games we have to win. We did it. It doesn’t matter how you earn them as long as you earn them. We are keeping track and I hope we can continue to do so.
Wheeler allowed four runs in 7 1/3 innings. He walked one and breathed five. The Phillies had a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning before Bryce Harper threw a solo shot to increase the Phils’ lead. That turned out to be the deciding factor as Wheeler ceded a two-point blast to Josh Bell at the bottom of the frame to get the Nats into a run.
Hector Neris had two strikeouts to close the eighth, and Jose Alvarado threw a scoreless ninth to recover the save. New closest Ian Kennedy was given an evening of rest after appearing in back-to-back matches.
“He’s doing fine,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I made the decision not to use it. He warmed up on Saturday and pitched on Sunday and Monday. I wasn’t comfortable putting him in danger and putting his health at risk.”
Jean Segura, JT Realmuto and Ronald Torreyes hit the other three home runs on the night for the Phillies. The Phillies are three-game winners in a row and have two more games to play for the Nats before heading home for a major weekend streak with the Mets.
Chase Anderson will start for the Phils on Wednesday. He allowed two runs on three hits in four innings in his last outing against Pittsburgh.
The Nats counter with right-hander Paolo Espino.