On Aug. 11, the Marlins sat a half-game in front of the Phillies at the bottom of the National League East standings. Philadelphia’s season looked as dead as Miami’s.
Not anymore. Not for the Phillies.
Quietly but methodically, the Phillies have crept back into the wild-card race. And with another win Tuesday, a 9-7 victory over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, they kept their hopes alive.
Even though they have virtually no chance of winning their sixth consecutive division title, they could take advantage of the new two-team, wild-card format to reach the postseason.
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And with a starting staff that contains Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, they would be no pushover if they made it past the wild-card game. The Marlins could attest to that.
Although Halladay wasn’t in perfect-game form Tuesday, he pitched well enough to record his 10th win and send the Phillies to their sixth consecutive victory. And while everything is going right for the Phillies, very little is for the Marlins.
Case in point: Tuesday’s sixth inning.
Giancarlo Stanton’s solo home run in the sixth was his 34th of the season and trimmed Philadelphia’s lead down to 5-3. But Halladay drove in a run with a single off Chris Hatcher to make it 6-3 and, after rookie catcher Rob Brantly dropped a foul pop, Jimmy Rollins belted the next pitch for a two-run home run as Philadelphia edged away.
“Unfortunately, the next pitch was a home run — a big one,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We’re all going to drop balls and make errors, but too bad that happened on the next pitch.”
Brantly took a foul tip to the mask later in the inning, staggering the young catcher, and earlier in the game was charged with a passed ball that preceded a Philadelphia run.
It was a tough night all around for Miami’s newcomers.
Nathan Eovaldi started for the Marlins but was in trouble from the get-go, loading the bases in the first before he was able to record an out and allowing three runs to score in the opening frame. Eovaldi, acquired from the Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade, was lifted after facing two batters in the fifth. In his nine starts since joining the Marlins, Eovaldi has gone 3-6 with an ERA of 5.32.
“This kid’s only 21, 22 years old, and it’s a learning process right now,” Guillen said.
Eovaldi had his most trouble with former Marlin Juan Pierre, who has become a Marlins killer. Pierre had hits in each of his three at-bats against the pitcher, scored twice and drove in a run. Pierre is hitting .395 against his former team this season.
After falling behind 8-3, the Marlins fought back, scoring four runs in the seventh to make it 8-7.
But the Phillies added a run in the seventh to make it 9-7. The Marlins put runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes struck out to end the inning. Reyes slammed his bat and helmet to the ground afterward.