Phillies vs. Diamondbacks: Rhys Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber lead the charge in 8th straight win

Make a mistake against the Phillies right now and they’ll make you pay.

The Phils won their eighth straight game Friday night, downing the Diamondbacks 7-5 in front of 37,423 fans at Citizens Bank Park.

They appeared to put the game out of reach in the second inning, when they scored five times off of D-backs ace Zac Gallen, three on Kyle Schwarber’s 16th homer of the year. But Arizona made it interesting with four runs in the seventh to briefly turn it into a one-run game.

Schwarber over his last 10 games has 6 homers, 12 RBI and 12 runs. His second-inning longball was preceded by a sharp ground ball by catcher Garrett Stubbs with one out and runners on the corners. The ball simply went under second baseman Ketel Marte’s glove and into right-center, scoring a run and putting runners back on the corners with one out. Had Marte gloved it cleanly, it could have been an inning-ending double play and a completely different tone to the night.

Instead, the Phillies caught a break, took full advantage and broke the game wide enough open to survive late stumbles by Kyle Gibson and Brad Hand.

“That’s what happens when you’re going good,” said interim skipper Rob Thomson, who begins his managerial career 7-0. “When you’re not going good, the next guy pops out and then a strikeout and you’re out of the inning. But we’ve been taking advantage of those situations for sure lately.”

Rhys Hoskins, who started the scoring with a first-inning homer to center, provided crucial insurance with a solo shot to left in the bottom of the seventh. Hoskins is up to 11 homers on the season. Responding in that moment was important after Arizona had seized momentum.

Connor Brogdon and Corey Knebel finished it off with scoreless innings.

“It feels like we’ve done it a few times in this little streak that we’ve had,” Hoskins said of the tack-on runs. “It’s huge. They kinda captured the momentum, we had it early, but they get it late in the game. We’ve seen it before, it’s nice to come back in the dugout knowing we still have the lead. The goal’s to get a run, snatch the momentum back. Obviously, the homer gives us a little more momentum, gets the fans back into it.”

The South Philly crowd was big and boisterous. The Phillies have averaged more than 36,000 fans at their last three home games and it’s been felt in the dugout.

“It’s awesome, it’s noticeable, we’re talking about it in the dugout,” Hoskins said. “You just feel the energy in the stadium, just even the ambient noise is loud. That creates a home-field advantage, it makes it more fun to play. We’re trying to stay as loose as we can in the dugout and a lot of that just starts with the energy that the fans bring. I can’t wait to see what the weekend holds.”

The Phillies have scored at least five runs in seven of their last eight games. At 29-29, they’re back to .500 for the first time since they were 17-17. They haven’t been above .500 since they were 3-2.

The Phils have made two very good right-handers work hard the last two days. Gallen and reigning NL Cy Young-winner Corbin Burnes needed a combined 179 pitches to get through a combined six innings. Gallen entered with a 2.40 ERA a day after Burnes entered with a 2.50 ERA.

“They’re both hot and they’re both grinding out at-bats,” Thomson said of the top two hitters in his order, Schwarber and Hoskins. “Again tonight with Gallen, we really stretched him out quickly and got him out of the game. … We did a number on the starter who is a pretty good pitcher.”

Gibson pitched into the seventh inning. He had allowed one run on three hits through six but put the first two men aboard in the seventh and both scored on Hand, who gave up two of his own later in the inning. Hand had not been scored upon in 13 straight appearances dating back to May 4. Seranthony Dominguez picked up two huge outs with the tying run in scoring position to end that shaky seventh, benefitting from an inning-ending called strike that was several inches outside.

Friday’s game began a stretch of 13 straight games for the Phillies against teams with losing records. They have two more with the D-backs, three at home with the Marlins, then five on the road against the Nationals and two at the Rangers.

Over the last three seasons, the Phillies are 18 games over .500 against teams with losing records. That may sound like success, but to put it in perspective, the Braves are 35 games over .500 against losing teams in that same span. With the National League’s second-softest remaining strength of schedule by opponent winning percentage, the 2022 Phillies must do a better job against inferior teams.

Prior to Friday’s game, Thomson talked about the need for the Phils to treat these clubs the same way they treated their opposition over the last month when they played 23 of 26 against teams over .500 and went 14-12.

“You’ve got to be careful because these are major-league teams and anybody can beat anybody else on any given night,” Thomson said. “That’s kind of going to be our message in our advance meeting coming up. You’ve got to go out and play the same way as you played against the Milwaukees of the world.

“High energy, I’ve really liked the energy level, the offensive approach, the way we’re playing defense, the way we’re pitching. We’ve just got to maintain that and stay consistent. Doesn’t matter who you ‘re playing.’

A victory Saturday afternoon would give the Phillies a third straight series win and their longest win streak since 2011. They love their chances with Zack Wheeler, who’s allowed eight earned runs in his last seven starts, back from paternity leave and on the mound.

With a win Saturday, Thomson would match Pat Moran in 1915 for the most consecutive wins to start a managerial tenure with the Phillies.

“He’s pressing all the right buttons right now, he’s keeping us as loose as we can be,” Hoskins said. “I think we’re seeing a pretty good product out on the field, we’re playing some really good ball right now.”

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