PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper and the Nationals kept their slim playoff chances alive.
Harper belted his 40th homer of the season, Jayson Werth went deep twice and Gio Gonzalez tied his career-high with 12 strikeouts to lead Washington to a 12-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
Werth and Harper each had four home runs in the three-game sweep of Philadelphia to help the Nationals pull within 7 ½ games of the Mets in the NL East with their fourth straight victory.
“We have to keep grinding and keep winning,” Harper said.
Darin Ruf homered for Philadelphia, which has dropped seven of 10.
“Not a lot to talk about tonight,” Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. “The only bright spot was Ruf’s home run.”
Gonzalez (11-7) allowed two runs on five hits with a pair of walks in seven innings.
Gonzalez, though, preferred to put the spotlight on Harper.
“He plays hard, plays like he’s having fun,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just unbelievable and fun to watch. To say the sky’s the limit is an understatement. I think he has more than that.”
Alec Asher (0-4), making his fourth career start, was tagged for four runs on seven hits in five innings.
Werth put the Nationals up 2-0 in the fourth with a drive to left-center. After the Phillies tied it in the bottom of the frame on Ruf’s two-run shot to left, Washington scored two runs on five hits in the fifth to go up 4-2.
Werth led off the sixth with a solo homer to left-center. He had a pair of homers, including a grand slam, in Monday’s series-opening win.
“I always enjoy playing here and hitting here,” Werth, a member of the Phillies’ 2008 championship team, said. “We need to win all of these games. It’s pretty much a must-win the rest of the way. A lot has to happen and we need to win every night.”
Harper then connected on a two-run, opposite-field shot with one out in the seventh.
“That’s a special talent,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “He didn’t click that ball, but he got enough of it.”
Yunel Escobar went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs to continue his hot streak. He is batting .406 in his last 17 games.
HARPER THANKS PHILLY
Harper retrieved the ball from his 40th home run from a Phillies fan, who received an autographed ball from the Nationals star.
“It’s pretty cool to have that kind of ball,” he said. “They’re great fans here. They know baseball. They understand the game and I’m so thankful for that.”
WHERE IS EVERYONE?
Philadelphia’s announced crowd of 15,753 was typical of late for a last-place club in rebuilding mode. It’s a far cry from recent years when Citizens Bank Park was sold out regularly.
“It’s definitely different now, a lot more empty seats,” Werth said. “I didn’t know the seats were blue. It’s kind of sad really. I feel bad for Ryan (Howard) and (Carlos Ruiz).”
The Phillies set a club record with 42 strikeouts in the three-game series, breaking the three-game mark of 38 set in 1995.
Nationals: INF Ryan Zimmerman (oblique) missed his eighth straight game. Escobar was lifted after singling in the eighth inning due to a tight hamstring. He slowly jogged to first and on to second after Jeff Francoeur’s error in right field. Williams said afterward he didn’t believe the injury to be serious.
Phillies: 1B Ryan Howard (left knee) missed his second straight game. 3B Maikel Franco (fractured left wrist) will begin a rehab stint at Clearwater on Thursday. If all goes well, Franco could rejoin the Phillieson Tuesday in Miami.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (4-5, 4.38) makes his ninth start in 37 appearances as Washington opens a four-game home series against Miami on Thursday night. RHP Jarred Cosart (1-4, 4.58) starts for the Marlins.
Phillies: After an off day on Thursday, LHP Adam Morgan (5-6, 4.60) takes the mound for Philadelphia on Friday night to begin a three-game series at Atlanta. Morgan is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts vs. the Braves, and 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in his last two outings.
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