WASHINGTON – The shouts came from everywhere around the visitor’s clubhouse. From the showers, the cafeteria, the trainer’s room — from wherever Kyle Schwarber and other members of the Philadelphia Phillies were following along to see if they would take a lead in the race for the NL’s last playoff spot.
It was Schwarber who had just delivered two of Philadelphia’s five homers in the first four innings to help the Phillies earn a much-needed win as they try to end an 11-year playoff drought, salvaging a split of a day-night doubleheader with an 8-2 victory over the worst-in-the-majors Washington Nationals in a rainy Game 2 on Saturday.
And he was among those excited to see that Philadelphia (85-73) did, indeed, go up by one game on Milwaukee (84-74) with four remaining. The Brewers blew a lead and lost to the Miami Marlins 4-3.
That game ended about 25 minutes after the Phillies' nightcap did.
Cue the cacophony.
“A lot of people aren't in this position we’re in right now. A lot of people are making their offseason plans right now,” Schwarber said, “and we’re trying to make sure we’re not doing that.”
The Phillies made it to the postseason every year from 2007-11 — including winning the World Series in 2008 — but haven’t been back since.
Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Matt Vierling also went deep in Game 2 for the Phillies, who quickly recovered from a 13-4 loss in the opener.
That was Philadelphia’s sixth defeat in seven games and left interim manager Rob Thomson answering questions about whether his players were panicking.
“I don’t sense panic,” Thomson said after Game 1. “I really don’t. I sense a group that really wants to get in the playoffs.”
It helped that Schwarber got things going on the second pitch of Game 2 from rookie Tommy Romero (1-1), who was claimed off waivers by the Nationals on Aug. 25.
Schwarber’s sixth leadoff homer of the season, and 19th of his career, landed in the second deck in right.
“That’s what’s special about this team — the ability to forget and move on. That was a really crucial, pivotal moment,” said Noah Syndergaard, who got the win with 5 2/3 scoreless innings as light rain fell for much of the evening. “That got us back on the right track and just going to skyrocket from here.”
Syndergaard (5-2) gave up two singles and two walks. Rookie Cristopher Sánchez threw the last three innings for his first career save.
Thomson on Syndergaard: “Impressive.” Schwarber's superlative of choice for the pitcher's performance: “Massive.”
Romero lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up five homers. In all, he allowed eight runs — six earned — eight hits and four walks.
“Got to have a short memory here," Romero said.
Schwarber homered off him again to begin the fourth, making it 8-0. That gave Schwarber his seventh multi-homer game of the season, 21st of his career, and raised his 2022 total to an NL-leading 44 long balls.
In the third, Bohm and Marsh hit back-to-back homers, before Vierling added his own homer to an earlier RBI triple.
“That was big,” Thomson said. “Getting out front. Then adding on. ... That kind of settled everything down.”
In Game 1, which began after a 41-minute rain delay, Kyle Gibson (10-8) allowed seven runs in six innings.
“Any time you feel like you give one away, it’s frustrating,” he said.
In Gibson's six starts in September and October, his ERA is 9.73 and Philadelphia's record is 1-5. He has allowed at least five earned runs in three straight starts.
Luke Voit, Joey Meneses and Luis García homered in the afternoon for Washington, which is 55-103.
García, who drove in a career-best five runs, and Meneses, who scored four and knocked in four, each had three hits in Game 1.
Meneses, a 30-year-old rookie, has 13 homers in 52 games.
“Unbelievable,” García said.
That lopsided loss — which included poor pitching, shaky defense and so-so hitting — could have rattled the Phillies.
“We just made sure that we were able to kind of flush that, get it out of our head for tonight,” Schwarber said. “Because if you’re thinking about that stuff, you don’t know what could happen.”
SCHWARBER VS. NATIONALS
Schwarber, who played for Washington in 2021, has 10 homers against the Nationals this year, the most by a Phillies player against one opponent in a season since Mike Schmidt hit 10 against the Chicago Cubs in 1980.
Each team used a position player to pitch: Philadelphia's Nick Maton in Game 1, Washington's Ildemaro Vargas in Game 2. Vargas got a couple of hitters out with 39 mph offerings.
The series finale Sunday — when showers are in the forecast — features Phillies RHP Zack Wheeler (11-7, 2.42 ERA) against Nationals LHP Patrick Corbin (6-18, 6.08). Philadelphia closes the regular season with three games at AL West champion Houston.
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