Phillies win series vs. Marlins and inch closer to Mets in NL East standings

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Phillies win series vs. Marlins and inch closer to vulnerable Mets originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies finally won a series against the Marlins. More importantly, they continued to gain ground on the first-place Mets.

The Phils won both games Sunday against the Marlins, moving to 47-45 and two games back in the NL East of the Mets, who overcame a six-run deficit to beat the Pirates.

It is the closest the Phillies have been to first place since May 19, and the 7-4 victory ended a stretch of five straight series against the Marlins without a series win.

"It’s a big day for us because we want to keep the momentum going," manager Joe Girardi said. "I believe we have 12 out of 14 games at home, it’s important that we take care of our business and not look ahead."

The day began with a walk-off home run from J.T. Realmuto, 14 minutes into the resumption of Saturday night’s suspended game. 

The Phillies felt great heading into Game 2 with their ace, Zack Wheeler, on the mound against a team he'd dominated twice in a row to the tune of one earned run in 14 innings.

The Phils jumped out to an early two-run lead before Wheeler had his worst inning of the season in the third. With one out, Wheeler allowed a single, a single, a double, a hard-hit sacrifice fly, a two-run homer and another single before getting out of it.

All of the balls were well-struck as the Marlins took a two-run lead and had Wheeler on the ropes. He rebounded to finish six innings and wasn’t scored upon the rest of the way, keeping the Phils in the game to tie it in the fifth and go ahead in the sixth.

With the Phillies trailing by two in the fifth, Andrew McCutchen hit his 16th homer of the season and Didi Gregorius followed two batters later with his eighth. 

The Phils went ahead in the sixth when Travis Jankowski and Brad Miller hit pinch-hit singles to put runners on the corners and Jean Segura followed with a line drive sac fly to center. Insurance was added when McCutchen beat out a double-play ball to score another run.

Realmuto singled in the final run in the eighth after Jankowski bunted his way aboard, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Small ball at its best.

Jankowski continues to play surprisingly well offensively and is hitting .375 through 60 plate appearances.

"It always takes at least 26 guys and it usually takes a lot more than that," Girardi said. "You look at what Janko has done since Odubel (Herrera) went down, some of the big games Miller has had. We need it from everyone. Two or three guys can’t do this by themselves."

Herrera will begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday.

There was a scare in the eighth inning when the Marlins loaded the bases with two outs against Connor Brogdon, but impressive young lefty Bailey Falter struck out Monte Harrison on a high, 93 mph fastball to end the threat. Realmuto referred to it as the biggest moment in the game.

Hector Neris picked up the save. Ranger Suarez appeared in games Friday and Saturday and Girardi does not use relievers three days in a row.

Neris has pitched six scoreless innings and put two men on base since his meltdown against the Padres just before the All-Star break.

"He's been throwing the ball pretty well for the last 10 days," Girardi said. "He’s kinda righted the ship, got himself on a roll and it’s really helpful."

The last two weeks have certainly been the best of the Phillies' season. They've won four straight series over the Padres, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins. They are 10-4 in the month of July with an off day coming Monday, then a two-game series in New York against a scuffling Yankees team. They roll into the July 30 trade deadline with back-to-back four-game series at home against the Braves and Nationals.

“We’ve got to prove that we can win. It’s as simple as that,” Wheeler said. “They’re not going to buy if we’re not consistent. To be able to go out there and win some games and show that we’re serious and show the front office that we’re serious, that definitely helps.”

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