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Bottom of Phillies’ lineup powers a blowout win over Dodgers despite Zack Wheeler’s early exit

Brandon Marsh, Rafael Marchán, and Johan Rojas went 7-for-9 with a homer (from Marsh), two doubles (from Marchán), seven runs, three RBIs, and two stolen bases combined.

Phillies catcher Rafael Marchán went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate on Tuesday.
Phillies catcher Rafael Marchán went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate on Tuesday.Read moreSteven M. Falk / Staff Photographer

The cavalry arrived — and in the nick of time, too — for a visit from the Phillies’ mirror-image coastal superpower. But what happened next was more out of the ordinary than even a trouncing of the mighty Dodgers.

Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber weren’t central to the outcome.

Crazy, isn’t it? Upon welcoming back the star sluggers, who account for more than one-quarter of the team’s scoring output, the Phillies leveled a 10-1 shellacking Tuesday night because the bottom of the order — Brandon Marsh, Rafael Marchán, and Johan Rojas — went 7-for-9 with a homer (from Marsh), two doubles (from Marchán), seven runs, three RBIs, and two stolen bases.

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“It felt like the squad is coming back together,” Marsh said of having Schwarber and Harper back in their familiar leadoff and No. 3 spots in the order. “It’s a great feeling to get those two guys back in our lineup. They’re such a huge piece to our team. We go nowhere without them. They lead the way, and we follow.”

OK, so Trea Turner did smash a grand slam to crack open the game like a piñata at an 8-year-old’s birthday party before struggling Bryson Stott banged a solo shot off the facing of the second deck. And the Dodgers aren’t the Dodgers with three regulars, including Mookie Betts, three starting pitchers, and much of their bullpen jamming up on the injured list like a Los Angeles freeway.

It wasn’t all knee-slapping laughs, either. Zack Wheeler dominated for five innings, then exited before the sixth with what the Phillies characterized as “left low back tightness.” Wheeler’s removal was “precautionary,” according to manager Rob Thomson, and both he and Wheeler expect the ace to start Sunday, as scheduled.

But it was a testament to the depth of the roster that the Phillies went 5-4 while Harper and Schwarber were convalescing from a hamstring and groin strain, respectively. Before that, they overcame a six-week stretch without Turner. Heck, they’re even 14-12 since irreplaceable catcher J.T. Realmuto had torn cartilage removed from his right knee.

“They did a fantastic job,” Schwarber said. “I feel like that’s kind of been the MO of the team over the last couple years that when someone goes down, someone steps right up to the challenge and take it by the reins and they run with it.”

So, when Harper vowed not to push it too hard in his return from the first hamstring injury of his career — “I’m not throwing the cloak on,” he said before the game — the rest of the lineup predictably had his back before 43,065 patrons, another sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.

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“It was definitely a comfort having those two guys back in the lineup and things going back to normal,” said Marsh, who started a second-inning rally with a two-out walk and a six-run fourth inning with a leadoff single against Dodgers starter Bobby Miller. “I just think we had a good plan. Wheels got us going, and then Marchán got us going, Schwarber, and we just kept following each other, just passing the baton.”

It was 3-0 after two innings, 9-0 after four, and by the seventh, the umpires had to check with the league office to make sure the Dodgers were allowed to use a position player to pitch.

At 59-32, the Phillies have the best record in baseball, ahead of the NL West-leading Dodgers (55-37). But they also have questions to answer ahead of the July 30 trade deadline, including the optimal makeup of the outfield.

More big games from Marsh, albeit against a right-handed pitcher, and Rojas could help resolve the situation.

Rojas left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the right wrist in the seventh inning, but appeared to avoid serious injury. Thomson said the Phillies didn’t see the need to send him for X-rays.

Since returning from triple A on June 28, Rojas is only 7-for-31. But he’s making things happen with his speed. He beat out a chopper past the mound in the second inning to extend a two-out rally, then skipped a single through the left side in the fourth to drive in a run.

After Schwarber walked to load the bases, Turner unloaded his sixth career grand slam.

Turn out the lights.

» READ MORE: The Phillies’ bullpen isn’t a weakness, but that doesn’t mean they should pass on upgrading at the trade deadline

“I stink with the bases loaded,” Turner said. “I’ve got a couple homers. But I feel like when I do well, I think you just try to keep it simple and get the ball to the outfield and get that run in. I got kind of lucky with the wind and the heat and the ball went over the fence.”

Wheeler, meanwhile, allowed three hits through five innings, including Cavan Biggio’s solo homer in the fifth. Although he issued back-to-back two-out walks in the fifth inning, his last pitch of the game registered 96.1 mph and induced a soft groundout from Dodgers star first baseman Freddie Freeman.

But his back tightened up, so the Phillies were “playing it safe,” he said, by taking him out.

The Phillies have avoided injuries to the top four starters in their rotation. The Dodgers can’t say the same. They entered a three-game showdown in Philadelphia without Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw. They also don’t have Betts and injured third baseman Max Muncy and outfielder Jayson Heyward.

So, this isn’t the measuring-stick series that it could’ve been. But in doling out the Dodgers’ most lopsided loss of the season, the Phillies reinforced why they’ve been baseball’s best team.

“Good test for us,” Marsh said. “It was big for us to come out and make a statement tonight.”