Slug-happy Phillies pound Padres to start their weekend off right

SAN DIEGO — You can’t begin a weekend much better than the Phillies did Friday at Petco Park when a slew of extra-base hits, standout defense and a fifth straight strong performance from Aaron Nola resulted in a 9-3 win.

Kyle Schwarber sent a Joe Musgrove cutter in the middle of the plate into the seats in right field for a home run on the fourth pitch of the game, and by the end of the third inning, the Phillies already had four homers and three doubles from six different players.

Bryce Harper, Brandon Marsh and Nick Castellanos all homered in the top of the third as the Phils broke the game open for Nola, whose recent success has been a bit overshadowed by Ranger Suarez and Zack Wheeler. Since allowing 11 hits to the Braves in his first start, Nola’s opponents have gone just 20-for-123, hitting .163.

Nola struck out 10, his third straight start in San Diego with double-digit K’s. He’s 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA and he’s recorded an out in the eighth inning in three consecutive starts, matching the longest streak in the majors since 2021.

The Phillies’ defense helped him throughout the night.

Marsh leaped over the wall in left and robbed a Jake Cronenworth homer in the bottom of the sixth.

Trea Turner made a smooth sliding backhand and popped up for a strong throw to rob Manny Machado of a base-hit in his first at-bat back from the paternity list.

Alec Bohm dove to his left to rob Ha-Seong Kim in the fourth inning. Bohm has worked his butt off and made genuine defensive strides over the last three years. He was worth minus-9 Outs Above Average in 2022, according to Statcast. That number was minus-5 last season and is neutral at 0 this season.

Bohm also had another standout offensive night with a first-inning double and a two-out RBI single in the fourth. He’s doubled in six straight games, matching Bryan Reynolds for the longest streak in the majors since the start of last season.

Moved back to the cleanup spot earlier this week over J.T. Realmuto, Bohm has hit .462 with runners in scoring position this season, .362 since 2023 and .324 for his career.

The Phillies clubbed Musgrove, just as they did the last two times they faced him in 2022. They’re locked in as a lineup, with all the talk of the lack of slugging the first three weeks essentially erased. The Phils’ team slugging percentage rose in one night from .394 to .411, which is now fifth-best in the majors.

Harper homered eight minutes after apparently avoiding a serious injury. He was crouched over in pain for several minutes in the bottom of the second after Jurickson Profar ran full-speed into his outstretched glove hand as Harper attempted a tag on a wide throw. It was not the same arm he had surgically repaired in November 2022.

But while many Phillies fans were likely thinking, “Here we go again,” after Harper had his thumb broken in San Diego two Junes ago by a Blake Snell fastball, this time he was OK. He took three hellacious swings in the ensuing at-bat, showing no ill effects.

Marsh had three RBI and continues to be a difference-making bridge bat between the meat of the Phillies’ order and the bottom. He hit .329 last April, and while he hasn’t been that hot, he’s driven in two more runs and has consistently driven the ball with authority.

Castellanos’ homer was his first of the season in his 105th plate appearance, barely floating over Profar’s glove in left-center. Realmuto added a two-run shot in the seventh for the Phillies’ fifth homer and eighth extra-base hit of the night.

The Phillies are 17-10, their best record through this many games since 2011, when they were 18-9 en route to a franchise-record 102 wins.

Saturday is a battle of two of baseball’s hottest starting pitchers as Ranger Suarez (4-0, 1.36 ERA) opposes Dylan Cease (3-1, 1.82) at 8:40 p.m. ET.