Phillies, Marlins open showdown of wild-card contenders

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Field Level Media
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Sep 6, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper (3) hits a two-RBI double against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at Petco Park.
Sep 6, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper (3) hits a two-RBI double against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at Petco Park.
Image: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

After earning a split on a difficult six-game road trip, the Philadelphia Phillies will return home to open a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday.

The Phillies dropped two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers but rallied to win two of three over the San Diego Padres.

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Philadelphia (77-62) holds a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs (76-65) for the first National League wild card.

"They can smell it," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said of his players returning to the postseason after coming within two victories of a World Series title in 2022. "And they're going for it."

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Bryce Harper snapped an 0-for-20 skid with a two-run double on Wednesday in Philadelphia's 5-1 victory over the Padres. It was Harper's first hit since he ripped his 300th career home run on Aug. 30.

"Swinging at pitches out of the zone again," Harper said about why he had struggled. "(If) I do that, I'll hit .150 the last month, and it won't be good. Just got to keep going."

Thomson said that he had a brief chat with Harper about giving him a day off. The two-time NL Most Valuable Player never wants to rest, and he made that point clear to his manager.

"You're going to go through spurts when you're playing good baseball and spurts when you're playing bad," Harper said. "I've got to stay in the lineup for the boys."

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Phillies shortstop Trea Turner has been on the paternity list since Tuesday, but he is expected to rejoin the team for the Friday game.

The Phillies will hand the ball to Cristopher Sanchez (2-3, 3.48 ERA). In his most recent outing, the left-hander gave up five runs, three earned, on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings during a no-decision against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 30.

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Sanchez is 0-0 with a 4.26 ERA in two career games against the Marlins, relief outings in 2021 and 2022.

Miami had been one of the hottest teams in the major leagues with a six-game winning streak, blasting 15 homers during that span. Then came a clunker on Thursday, a 10-0 home defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Josh Bell and Garrett Hampson each hit a single, which accounted for all of the Marlins' offense. Bell's hit broke up Ryan Pepiot's perfect-game bid with two outs in the seventh inning, and the Marlins were shut out for the 11th time.

"We hit the ball hard a couple times," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. "For the most part, a lot of weak contact."

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Still, those six wins helped catapult the Marlins back into the playoff picture. Miami (72-68) and the Cincinnati Reds (73-69) are both a half-game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks (73-68), who occupy the third and final NL wild-card spot.

"We couldn't get anything going (on Thursday)," Schumaker said. "Tough day. Those are gonna happen. ... We still feel really good heading into the next series."

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Right-hander Eury Perez (5-4, 2.86 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Marlins on Friday. In his latest start, against the Washington Nationals on Sept. 1, he allowed five hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings without getting a decision.

The 20-year-old rookie will be facing the Phillies for the first time.

—Field Level Media