By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyle Schwarber hit two of Philadelphia’s five homers in the first four innings and the Phillies got a much-needed win as they try to end an 11-year playoff drought, salvaging a split of a day-night doubleheader with an 8-2 victory over the Washington Nationals in a rainy Game 2 on Saturday.
Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Matt Vierling also went deep in the nightcap for the Phillies, who quickly recovered from a 13-4 loss in the opener against the worst-in-the-majors Nationals.
That was Philadelphia’s sixth defeat in seven games and left interim manager Rob Thomson answering questions about whether his players were panicking.
“I don’t sense panic,” Thomson said. “I really don’t. I sense a group that really wants to get in the playoffs.”
Philadelphia began Saturday a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers for the third wild-card berth in the National League. The Brewers were playing the Miami Marlins at night.
The Phillies made it to the postseason every year from 2007-11 — including winning the World Series in 2008 — but haven’t been back since that run.
Noah Syndergaard (5-2) got the win in Game 2 with 5 2/3 scoreless innings as light rain fell for much of the evening. He gave up two singles and two walks.
Rookie Cristopher Sánchez threw the last three innings for his first career save.
Schwarber’s sixth leadoff homer of the season, and 19th of his career, landed in the second deck in right. It came on the second pitch of Game 2 from Tommy Romero (1-1), who made his major league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 12 and was claimed off waivers by the Nationals on Aug. 25.
Romero lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up five homers. In all, he allowed eight runs — six earned — eight hits and four walks.
Schwarber homered off Romero again to begin the fourth, making it 8-0. That gave Schwarber his seventh multi-homer game of the season, 21st of his career, and raised his 2022 total to an NL-leading 44 long balls.
Bohm hit a two-run homer in the third following a walk to Bryce Harper, the two-time NL MVP and former Nationals star who still hears boos when he steps to the plate in Washington. Bohm’s 13th shot was followed by Marsh’s 11th, the ninth time the Phillies have hit back-to-back round-trippers this season. Matt Vierling added his sixth homer of the year to an earlier RBI triple.
In Game 1, which began after a 41-minute rain delay, Kyle Gibson (10-8) allowed eight hits and seven runs in six innings.
“Any time you feel like you give one away, it’s frustrating,” he said.
In Gibson’s six starts in September and October, his ERA is 9.73 and Philadelphia’s record is 1-5. He has allowed at least five earned runs in three straight starts.
“Been a frustrating month,” said Gibson, adding that he’s gone over his games with his pitching coaches and catchers but they’re all “coming up empty on saying, ‘Hey, this is where (the issue) is.’”
Luke Voit, Joey Meneses and Luis García homered in the afternoon for Washington, which had lost its past nine games against Philadelphia and is 55-103 this season.
Schwarber hit the first pitch from Aníbal Sánchez (4-6) for a leadoff triple and scored on a double steal with Harper. But Washington tied it 1-all on García’s RBI single in the bottom half of the first, then went ahead 6-1.
In the second, Meneses’ double got past third baseman Alec Bohm and brought three runs around, followed immediately by Voit’s two-run shot that traveled 440 feet to center field for his 22nd homer.
García, who drove in a career-best five runs, and Meneses, who scored four and knocked in four, each had three hits in Game 1.
Meneses, a 30-year-old rookie, has 13 homers in 52 games.
“Unbelievable,” García said.
SCHWARBER VS. NATIONALS
Schwarber, who played for Washington in 2021, has 10 homers against the Nationals this year, the most by a Phillies player against one opponent in a season since Mike Schmidt hit 10 against the Chicago Cubs in 1980.
Each team used a position player to pitch: Philadelphia’s Nick Maton in Game 1, Washington’s Ildemaro Vargas in Game 2. Vargas got a couple of hitters out with 39 mph offerings.
Nationals: DH Nelson Cruz hasn’t played since Sept. 13 because of a problem with his left eye. Manager Dave Martinez said he’s “worried” about getting the 42—year-old one last at-bat at home.
The series finale Sunday — when showers are in the forecast — features Phillies RHP Zack Wheeler (11-7, 2.42 ERA) against Nationals LHP Patrick Corbin (6-18, 6.08). Philadelphia closes the regular season with three games at AL West champion Houston.
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