The Phillies could look back at an eventful June as the month that saved their season

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The Phillies could look back at an eventful June as the month that saved their season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The fireworks arrived a night early at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday as the Phillies closed out an eventful – and very successful – month of June with a 14-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies hit five home runs – including Kyle Schwarber’s 12th of the month and Darick Hall’s first and second in the big leagues – and got a strong start from Aaron Nola to finish June with a 19-8 record.

It was their first 19-win month since September 2010 when they won 21 games. The Phils were in the midst of a run of five straight NL East titles in 2010. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2011. If they get there this year, they will look back at June as the month that turned around their season.

Think about it.

The Phils began the month with a 21-29 record and were 12 ½ games back in the NL East. Joe Girardi was fired as manager. Rob Thomson took over as the interim skipper and the team won its first eight games under him. Injuries hit the club hard as Jean Segura went out with a broken finger (he was actually hurt on the final day of May) and Bryce Harper went out with broken left thumb. Zach Eflin went down with a knee injury that required a shot of cortisone on Thursday. Corey Knebel pitched himself out of the closer’s role. Nick Castellanos slumped badly. But Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins and Harper – before he went down – combined to carry the offense with young players like Matt Vierling, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott all providing moments. The Phils hit 42 homers in the month and averaged 5.41 runs per game. Nola and Zack Wheeler led the rotation and the overall pitching staff had an ERA of 3.62. In the end, the Phils finished the month 40-37 overall, 7 ½ games back in the division and 2 ½ games back in the wild-card race. Not too shabby.

“I have confidence in the offense – not to score 14 runs every night – but confidence that we’ll score consistently,” Thomson said after Thursday night's win. “I feel like we have a really good rotation and our bullpen is starting to come into form. I guess that’s why I have confidence we can keep this thing going. It was a great month and hopefully we can string a couple more of those together.”

With Harper out until at least late August, the Phillies need Castellanos to hit. Thursday night was a step in the right direction as he had a pair of hits, a hard-hit single and a three-run homer. The homer was his one and only of the month and it was predicted – sort of – before the game by hitting coach Kevin Long.

It might be too much to ask Schwarber to duplicate his June in the month of July, but the Phils will try.

“Tomorrow is June 31,” Thomson joked.

Schwarber finished June with 12 homers and 27 RBIs. He had 16 homers and 30 RBIs last June with Washington.

Schwarber and Hoskins had back-to-back homers in the third inning Thursday night, fitting because they carried a huge load for the club at the top of the order in June.

“We got power from the front lineup and on-base from the back of the lineup,” Thomson said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about. Guys have to step up and chip in like they did tonight.”

In need of more left-handed pop in the middle of the lineup with Harper out, the Phils called up Hall on Wednesday from Triple A, where he had 20 homers. He smacked a pair of homers Thursday night. His fourth-inning homer against Jesus Cruz was his first big-league hit.

Hall will turn 27 on July 25. This is his seventh year in the Phillies organization. He could barely contain his smile as he rounded the bases after his first homer.

“You’re here to produce,” he said after the game. “I felt like I was able to help the team. Personally, it was euphoric. Running around the bases, it felt like my feet weren’t hitting the ground so I’m just glad I didn’t miss a bag.”

Back in the dugout, Hall got a big reception.

“It’s a testament to his work ethic and to player development,” Thomson said. “We kind of brought him here for that, a little thump in the middle of the lineup. It’s a great story.”

The Phillies were a great story in June, but now it’s over. The St. Louis Cardinals, angling for a postseason berth just like the Phillies, are in town on Friday night as July begins with another tough three-game series. Rookie lefty Bailey Falter will start in place of Eflin.

The Phils won just one of their three games against the Braves, but at least they come into Friday with the momentum of a 14-run explosion.

“Nights like tonight are fantastic for everybody,” Castellanos said. “We’re here to play. We have guys that care and we want to win. There's a lot of baseball left. The season is going to be fun.”