Phillies vs. Cardinals: Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto homer, Zack Wheeler outduels Adam Wainwright

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The Phillies came out on top of a duel between accomplished veteran right-handers on Sunday Night Baseball, beating the Cardinals 4-0 to take an important series against the team they’re chasing for the final National League playoff spot.

Zack Wheeler outpitched Adam Wainwright with seven scoreless innings in front of a crowd of 44,225, the Phillies’ second sellout of the season. Wheeler was at 94 pitches through six innings but went out for the seventh because the sixth was his quickest inning and the Phillies needed to extend him. All three of Seranthony Dominguez, Brad Hand and Jose Alvarado had been used two days in a row so it was important that Wheeler was able to finish the seventh.

“You kinda have a clue and you hear certain guys are down,” Wheeler said. “It was my goal to go out there and go deep into the game. The pitch count going up, I knew I had to get some weak contact as I went through and I was able to do that.”

The Phillies are 7-2 in their last nine series and have a 42-38 record one game before the official midpoint of their season. They trail St. Louis by 1½ games for the last NL wild-card spot after taking two of three this weekend. The teams meet again next weekend for a four-game wraparound series.

Rhys Hoskins put the Phils on the board with a solo home run in the fourth inning, his 17th. He then led off the sixth with a double and scored on Nick Castellanos’ single to shallow left-center. J.T. Realmuto followed two batters later with a two-run shot.

 

Over his last 25 games, Hoskins has hit .341/.443/.750 with 7 doubles, 9 homers and 17 RBI. He also made a diving stop in the eighth inning Sunday for an out that would’ve otherwise resulted in two Cardinals being aboard for the top of the order against Nick Nelson.

“It’s a big series win,” Hoskins said. “We haven’t played a lot of the Central so far and to be able to come away with a series win now, a series win against the Brewers, the top two teams over there, it’s always a good sign as a measuring stick.”

Wheeler wasn’t quite at his sharpest early, putting a man on base in each of the first five innings and throwing fewer strikes than usual. But he was stingy out of the stretch, allowing only one of those runners to advance to scoring position. He was at his best in his final two frames and retired the last nine hitters he faced to improve to 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA.

It was a nice bounce-back after two starts below Wheeler’s standard. He was taken deep twice and gave up three runs in 6⅓ innings Tuesday against the Braves and put 10 men on base in just 4⅓ the prior week in Texas. Those outings came after he went 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA in nine starts from April 28 through June 22.

“I’ve faced him and it’s a really, really uncomfortable at-bat,” Hoskins said of his teammate. “You know exactly what you’re going to get. He’s most likely going to go deep into the game and there’s going to be some soft contact.”

The Phillies are off Monday for July 4. Excluding the shortened seasons in 2020 and 1981, it’s their first scheduled off-day on July 4 since 1916.

They pick things up Tuesday with the Nationals, who may be without their best player after Juan Soto left Sunday’s game with calf tightness. The Phils have won four of five this season over the Nats, who are 6-26 against the NL East.



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