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J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins deliver huge two-run doubles in the ninth inning and other observations from Phillies’ 7-6 victory over Nationals

The Phillies shaved the Mets' NL East lead down to a half-game. They play New York on Friday.

The  Phillies' Odubel Herrera (left) and Ronald Torreyes high-five after scoring on J.T. Realmuto's double in the ninth inning.
The Phillies' Odubel Herrera (left) and Ronald Torreyes high-five after scoring on J.T. Realmuto's double in the ninth inning.Read morePatrick Semansky / AP

WASHINGTON — Bring on the Mets.

One strike from heading into this weekend’s first-place showdown at Citizens Bank Park with a loss in the series finale here Thursday, the Phillies rallied to take the lead on two-run doubles by J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins, then held on for dear life in the ninth inning for a 7-6 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Not only did the Phillies take Aaron Nola off the hook, but they matched their season high with a fifth consecutive victory and completed their first four-game sweep in Washington since 2009. Oh, and they picked up a fourth game on the swooning Mets in five days, shaving the NL East lead down to a half-game.

It’s beginning to feel like 2007 all over again, albeit a month early.

“Can’t wait,” Bryce Harper said of meeting the Mets. “I hope the place is rocking, all the way up to the top.”

Trailing 5-3 going into the ninth inning, the Phillies’ rally began with Odúbel Herrera’s leadoff double and continued when Ronald Torreyes reached on a throwing error by Nationals third baseman Carter Kieboom. But young closer Kyle Finnegan struck out pinch-hitting Jean Segura, got Travis Jankowski to ground out, and worked the count full to Realmuto after falling behind 3-0.

Finnegan fired a 97-mph sinker, and Realmuto -- who flew out with the bases loaded two innings earlier -- unloaded a line drive that split the gap in right-center field to tie the game.

After the Nationals intentionally walked scorching-hot Harper, Hoskins lashed a double to left field. The dugout erupted, with backup catcher Andrew Knapp and others standing on the top step, leaning over the railing, and waving Realmuto and Harper home for a 7-5 lead.

“You’ve got to come up with some big hits and you’ve got to have, I think, a couple magical moments,” Hoskins said. “I don’t think that we’re done with those.”

Realmuto, Harper and Hoskins have each had their hot streaks. At last, though, they’re going well simultaneously. In the last five games, they combined to go 24-for-52 with 10 doubles and four home runs.

“That’s kind of what we envision for our offense,” Realmuto said. “We’ve got the big boppers in the middle, and when we’re hot, we can do damage any time. When Harp and Rhys and myself are going like we are right now, we’re going to put up a lot of runs. We’ve got to stay hot as long as we can.”

Hoskins put it another way.

“It’s fun for us,” he said, “and should be scary for the other teams.”

Manager Joe Girardi tapped Archie Bradley -- not new closer Ian Kennedy -- to finish the game, explaining that he didn’t want to get the latter up in the ninth inning after already warming up the former. Bradley gave up a one-out double to Juan Soto, who scored on Josh Bell’s single up the middle and an off-balance throw by shortstop Didi Gregorius that bounced past first base.

But Bradley got Yadiel Hernandez to line out to left field and Kieboom to ground out.

“I thought today was great. I thought the whole series was really good,” Harper said. “Got behind there in the ninth and just battled as a team. We’ve been doing it all year long.”

Nola struggles

The Phillies staked Nola to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. They trailed 5-2 when he left after the fifth.

Nola’s problem: a little of everything. He allowed the tying runs in the fourth inning on two hits, two walks, and a hit by pitch. The Nationals went ahead against him in the fifth on a single, a walk, and Josh Bell’s three-run home run on a two-strike curveball that stayed up and over the plate.

Semiquincentennial man

Harper went deep in the third inning, marking his 250th career homer. It came only four days after he picked up his 250th career double.

Harper is the 220th player in the 250-250 club for doubles and home runs. But he’s the 35th to record both milestones in the same season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Mike Trout was the last player to do so in 2019.

In his last 26 games, Harper is batting .389 (35-for-90) and slugging .701 with with 16 doubles, four home runs, and a .505 on-base percentage.


Trailing 5-3, the Phillies cut down a run at the plate in the eighth inning with a heads-up throw by Gregorius.

Second baseman Ronald Torreyes saved a run with a diving stop on a ball up the middle but was late with a flip to Gregorius covering second. Gregorius realized that Hernandez had rounded third and was trying to score, a la Chase Utley, and made a strong throw to the plate.

He’s Juan-derful

The Phillies held Soto to four hits in the four games, but the Nationals’ star still managed to hurt them.

Soto drew a walk in both of the Nationals’ big innings. He also singled and scored in the ninth. And he made a leaping catch in front of the bullpen in right field to steal a solo homer from Gregorius in the seventh inning.