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Phillies watch the Brewers lose, then beat the Nationals to increase playoff lead

Phillies still in the driver’s seat thanks to Marlin’s grand slam and big win on Friday originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

WASHINGTON — The Phillies needed to win two games on Friday. But when the last stretches of Hurricane Ian made that impossible, they did the following.

They won one.

They will look for two on Saturday.

If Ian cooperates.

Desperate for wins to maintain their lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the final spot in the NL wild-card playoffs, the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals, 5-1, in the first game of a vital four-game series. Friday evening. The two teams were supposed to play a second game on Friday night, but that game was postponed due to rain about 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.

Saturday’s forecast is not encouraging but the teams will try to play two again. A separate admission doubleheader is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Kyle Gibson will start Game 1 for the Phillies and Noah Syndergaard will get the ball for Game 2.

If rain gets in the way again on Saturday, the teams will try to play a doubleheader on Sunday. A single match is already scheduled for that day with a start time of 1:35 p.m.

If weather prevents the Phillies and Nationals from completing the four-game series, the Phillies would return to Washington to play a game on Thursday, the day before the playoffs begin, if that game affects the playoff race.

The Phillies are scheduled to close out the regular season with games in Houston on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

After the disaster that was Chicago, the Phillies were very happy to get a win on Friday afternoon. The win increased their lead over Milwaukee to a full game, but stay tuned, the Brewers were set to play the Miami Marlins on Friday night, so there will be more movement in the standings.

Before reaching Washington, the Phillies were swept by the Cubs in Chicago, extending their losing streak to five at the most inopportune moment. The Phillies’ offense was brutal, scoring only three runs and no home runs in the three games at Wrigley Field. That’s why Rhys Hoskins’ first-inning homer off Washington right-hander Erick Fedde was so great on Friday.

“It brings a little more energy and noise in the dugout,” Hoskins said of the timing, “but I think, really, just one run in the first inning is going to help us a lot there. I think everybody needs to take a deep breath, knowing that we can still score runs.

“Again, Chicago wasn’t great, plain and simple, but we know we’re still in it. We still have a chance as long as we keep focusing on what’s in front of us.”

The Phillies, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2011, control their own destiny. With six games remaining, his magic number over the Brewers is five. That includes a tiebreaker earned by winning the season series against the Brewers.

The Brewers had a chance to tie the Phillies on Thursday night, but blew a late 2-0 lead when Miami’s Avisail Garcia hit a grand slam in the top of the eighth inning to give his team a victory of 4-2.

Once upon a time, the Marlins were the killers of the Phillies, the destroyers of the Phillies’ postseason hopes. This time, it was the Phillies’ assistants. A Brewers win would have pushed them a half-game ahead of the Phillies entering Friday’s schedule.

The Phillies were traveling from the airport to the team hotel in Washington when Garcia hit the grand slam that kept the Phillies ahead of the Brewers.

“We just landed,” Hoskins said. “We were on the bus, all huddled around a phone. It was great to see.”

Hey smiled.

“I’m a huge Avisail Garcia fan.”

In addition to the first-inning home run, Hoskins had an RBI single in Friday’s victory. Bailey Falter, battered by Atlanta in his previous start, pitched six scoreless innings.

“After my poor showing in my last start, it felt good to go out there and give the team a chance to win,” Falter said. “The guys earned it. I was happy I delivered for them.”

Falter has spent the season filling in for injured starters and those who might need a break. He has done quite well. The team is 7-2 in his last nine starts.

Perhaps Avisaíl García’s grand slam on Thursday night and the Phillies’ victory over Washington on Friday afternoon will be the booster shot that straightens this team out and gets them into the postseason. The Phillies certainly need to make some hay against Washington, the worst team in the majors (the Phils are 14-2 against the Nats), because Houston is looming next week and the 102-win Astros, who will have a playoff first round Goodbye, they intend to play their big guns until the end of the regular season. Justin Verlander, who leads the majors in ERA, will pitch one of next week’s games against the Phillies.

Six games to go. The race is tight. But the Phillies remain in the driver’s seat, even after being swamped in Chicago.

“Chicago sucked,” Hoskins said. “It tired us out. Look, we’re competitors, we care, we probably care too much sometimes. But in this game, you can’t dwell on things for too long. We had to empty it out. We’re (ahead of Milwaukee). If we continue to win games, We’ll be where we want to be.”

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