By Joseph Santoliquito

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was supposed to be over by now. Sports fans across the Delaware Valley were making their plans for Eagles training camp to begin next week, and ready to get sucked up into the gigantic NFL vortex that dominates the national sports landscape from July to February.

But something happened to what appeared to be a moribund Phillies’ season. They survived.

They came through a disappointing 3-4 homestand by splitting four games with what looks like the eventual National League-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Entering this weekend at Pittsburgh, the Phillies are 50-47, 7.5 games behind the NL-East leading Atlanta Braves and half-a-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the last wildcard spot.

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What the Dodgers series showed was fight.

Yes, the Phillies blew a 6-1 lead to win 9-8 on July 16. They came back to win 7-6 on July 18, after trailing 5-3 in the seventh.

What’s more is that the Phillies showed some fire after beating the Dodgers on Thursday.

Closer Héctor Neris let the Dodgers know a few things after getting Justin Turner to end the game with on a deep fly out to right.

“I think we played this series the right way, played it straight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game. “To look in our dugout and to taunt in any way, I think it’s unacceptable. Look in your own dugout.”

The Dodgers’ Max Muncy said: “He’s blown about eight saves against us over the last two years. I guess he was finally excited he got one. Whatever.”

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Neris attributed it to emotions.

Whatever it was, it showed the Phillies aren’t afraid of looking the tiger in the eye.

Now if they can get start getting consistent starting pitching and Neris, who has blown two saves and allowed runs in four of his last five appearances, can finish, the Phillies may be able to play meaningful games into at least September.