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The legend of Ronald Torreyes grows as the Phillies inch closer to the division lead | Extra Innings

The Phillies are 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets, the closest they have been to the top of the NL East since May 25.

Phillies infielder Ronald Torreyes has five home runs this year after hitting four in his first six major-league seasons combined.
Phillies infielder Ronald Torreyes has five home runs this year after hitting four in his first six major-league seasons combined.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

The shortest player on the Phillies roster came up huge. Again.

Stop us if you’ve read this before, but Ronald Torreyes delivered a two-run homer in the seventh inning Tuesday night, one of four long balls in the Phillies’ 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals. The victory, coupled with another New York Mets loss in Miami, pushed the Phillies to within 1 1/2 games of the division lead, the closest they have been since May 25.

Make it five home runs in 192 plate appearances this season for Torreyes, generously listed at 5-foot-8. The utility infielder entered the season with four homers in 639 plate appearances.

“I call it ‘Little Guy Power,’ ” reliever Héctor Neris said, laughing. “It’s fun to see him play. He’s a guy that you want to see there. He’s a low-key guy on the team. He’s a hero.”

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The rundown

A month ago, Neris gave up six runs in a game against the San Diego Padres. His resurgence since then has been one of the better stories in the Phillies bullpen.

Didi Gregorius says he’s still experiencing the effects of a rare pseudogout condition. “Some days,” he said, “I will feel like I don’t have anything.”

Minor-league infielder Daniel Brito is in stable condition in a Rochester, N.Y., hospital, according to the Phillies, after collapsing in a triple-A game last Saturday and undergoing emergency surgery.

Important dates

Tonight: Chase Anderson faces the Nationals, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Aaron Nola vs. Joe Ross in series finale in D.C., 4:05 p.m.

Friday: Kyle Gibson opens a big series at home vs. Mets, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday: Ranger Suárez vs. New York’s Tylor Megill, 4:05 p.m.

Sunday: Roy Halladay’s No. 34 will be retired at Citizens Bank Park, 1:05 p.m.

Stat of the day

It has been three years since Bryce Harper played home games in Washington, but he still seems to love hitting there.

Harper blew kisses to booing fans in the eighth inning Tuesday night after hitting a solo homer that proved to be the difference in the game. It also was his 98th career home run at Nationals Park, second most behind longtime Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (115). Anthony Rendon is third with 71.

Additionally, Harper has a 14-game on-base streak against his former team and has hit safely in 13 of those games.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.

Question: Hi Scott. How is it possible that Bryce Harper is hitting over .300, a high OPS, but yet has so few RBIs? Is it because he is always being pitched around when up with runners on base? — Steve S., via email

Answer: Hey, Steve. Great question. Sometimes, yes, Harper has been pitched around. Monday night, for instance, the Nationals walked him intentionally with first base open in the ninth inning and pitched to J.T. Realmuto, who lined a go-ahead, two-run single.

Mostly, though, it has been bad luck and nagging injuries. Harper has missed 21 games because of assorted issues (back, wrist, shoulder, calf, etc.). Entering Tuesday night, he had batted 73 times with runners in scoring position compared to 117 and 105 for Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen, respectively.

It isn’t like Harper has been misplaced in the batting order. He has hit third and fourth, classic run-producing spots. If anything, he hasn’t driven the ball as well with RISP (.404 slugging percentage compared to .547 overall). All but one of his 17 home runs have come with the bases empty. Still, he’s slashing .298/.438/.404 with men on second and/or third. He just hasn’t been in that spot enough.