PHILADELPHIA (AP)Rhys Hoskins is going deep. And deep again. Kyle Schwarber is swatting home runs at a pace like no other slugger since the end of May. Bryce Harper has played like a reigning MVP and batted close to .400 for more than a month.
With pop at the plate, the Phillies are perfect under their new manager – and heating up for a summer playoff push.
Hoskins hit a pair of solo home runs and Schwarber added a three-run shot to lead red-hot Philadelphia to its eighth straight win, 7-5 over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
On Saturday, the Phillies can match their longest winning streak since 2011 – the last year the franchise made the playoffs — when they took nine straight over July and August.
”We’re just waiting for the time when the Phillies show up and the other team does not have a chance at all,” winning pitcher Kyle Gibson said.
The Phillies returned home from a three-game sweep of Milwaukee and mashed and bashed again against the Diamondbacks. The Phillies are a sterling 7-0 under interim manager Rob Thomson. Thomson is the first manager to win his first seven games sine Joe Morgan won 12 straight with the Boston Red Sox in 1988.
”He’s obviously pressing all the right buttons right now,” Hoskins said. ”He’s keeping us in here as loose as we can be. I think we’re seeing a pretty good product out on the field. We’re playing some good ball right now.”
With Harper (3 for 4) leading the charge, the Phillies are poised to make a run at an NL wild-card spot as they enter the softest spot of their schedule. The Phillies opened a six-game homestand against the sub-.500 Diamondbacks and Marlins. Then come four games at Washington (only the Reds are worse in the NL) and two games at Texas.
That’s 13 straight games against teams with losing records until June 23 against San Diego.
Don’t count the Phillies (29-29) among the teams with losing marks — they are at .500 for the first time since they were 17-17 on May 14.
”You’ve got to be careful because these are major league teams,” Thomson said. ”Anybody can beat anybody else on any given night and that’s kind of going to be our message. You’ve got to go out and play the same way you play against Milwaukee, high energy. I really liked the energy level. I really liked the offensive approach.”
The Phillies played great of late against aces. They chased NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes in the fifth inning of Thursday’s 8-3 win in Milwaukee and Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen (4-2) gave up seven hits and six runs in just 1 1/3 innings and the shortest start of his career.
Turned out, the omens were against Arizona from the start.
The Phillies welcomed 8-year-old Caden Marge and his family to the game after he was caught on camera praying for – then wildly celebrating for – the team after Bryson Stott’s game-winning, three-run home run Sunday against the Angels. The Phillies might want to gift the kid season tickets. Marge was in the team’s broadcast booth when Schwarber hit a three-run shot off Gallen in the second for a 5-0 lead. He has an MLB-best six homers since May 30.
Harper is batting .391 with 12 doubles, 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 27 games since May 5.
Hoskins staked Gibson (4-2) to an early lead with a one-out solo homer in the first inning. He provided a cushion with his second solo shot of the game and 11th homer of the season in the seventh.
Gibson gave up Daulton Varsho’s ninth homer of the year in the sixth, then combined with Brad Hand to give up four runs in the seventh that made it 6-5. Seranthony Dominguez struck out Christian Walker looking on a 90 mph slider that left the tying run stranded at second.
Corey Knebel worked the ninth for his 11th save.
”We spent a lot of time talking to (the media) about how things were going wrong for us. So it’s good to have it going right,” Gibson said. ”It’s good to have things rolling and catching some breaks.”
The Phillies entered 2 1/2 games out of the third NL wild-card spot and another big crowd — they’re growing again at Citizens Bank Park — had to scoreboard watch (OK, scroll Twitter) for the latest updates. And why not? Their manager is taking a peek.
”I’m always watching the scoreboard,” Thomson said.
For the eighth straight time, the scoreboard posted a W for the Phillies.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo ended his MLB career in 1999 and a .211 batting average in limited time with the Phillies.
”I just appreciated my time there. I learned about what the fans were all about,” he said. ”They were very engaged and passionate. I once made an error behind Curt Schilling. It was basically a double-play ball and it went through my legs And they booed me.”
Phillies reinstated RHP Zack Wheeler (4-3, 3.14 ERA) off the paternity list and outrighted INF Scott Kingery to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies send Wheeler to the mound against LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-5, 3.64 ERA) in the second game of a three-game set.
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