Zach Eflin is pitching as well as he has since June, Rhys Hoskins added another startling stat to his résumé with career homer No. 50, and the Phillies won a series against a team other than the Marlins for the first time since July 25.
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Boy, did the Phils need this 4-0 win, too, with the Braves beating the Cardinals earlier in the day ahead of the all-important four-game showdown in Atlanta beginning Thursday.
"We're going to Atlanta ready to win," Eflin said after the game, with some confidence.
At 78-73, the Phils are 5½ games back in the NL East with 11 to play. Any combination of six Braves wins or Phillies losses will result in Atlanta winning the division.
"We're in a pretty unique postion, an exciting position that doesn't happen all that often," Hoskins said. "As a competitor, it's all you can ask for - you control your own destiny."
This is the first time the Phillies have won back-to-back series since their first two series out of the All-Star break.
Success vs. Syndergaard
Four meetings with Noah Syndergaard in 2018 and the Phillies hit him around all four times. Syndergaard lasted just four innings, put seven men on base, allowed three runs and two homers.
Syndergaard had a 5.75 ERA in his four starts against the Phillies and they hit .326 off him.
In a year filled with weak offensive performances vs. mediocre pitchers, the Phils had little trouble with Syndergaard. The only other ace-type they did some damage against was Stephen Strasburg.
Hoskins has reached base in 8 of 13 career plate appearances vs. Syndergaard with two homers and two doubles (see story).
"There's something about velocity that simplifies things," Hoskins said. "It gives you less time to think. We've stuck to our game plan really well against him. As that goes on, you build confidence against a guy and when something works, you stick with it."
Eflin was cruising until the fifth inning, when his pitch count rose in a high-stress situation. With runners on the corners and the Mets' most dangerous hitter, Michael Conforto, at the plate, Eflin was able to gear up to strike him out on a full count.
Eflin struck out nine over five scoreless innings. He faced 21 batters and only one put the ball in the air.
The Phillies have desperately needed someone to step up in the rotation other than Aaron Nola and these last two starts, Eflin has done it. He's given up one run in 11⅓ innings in wins over the Marlins and Mets.
Pinch-hit decisions pay off
These last two nights, Gabe Kapler's pinch-hit decisions in the middle innings have paid off.
On Tuesday, he used Wilson Ramos and Justin Bour in place of J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery in the sixth inning. Ramos hit an RBI single and Bour tied the game with an RBI double. The Phillies scored five in the inning to win the game.
On Wednesday, Kapler turned to Jose Bautista over Odubel Herrera against a lefty in the fifth inning. An interesting choice with Herrera having homered in his previous at-bat.
Bautista rewarded his skipper with an RBI double.
Phillies and Braves, four games at SunTrust Park beginning Thursday at 7:35 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The pitching matchups:
Vince Velasquez (9-11, 4.50) vs. Kevin Gausman (5-2, 2.61)
Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.67) vs. Julio Teheran (9-8, 3.97)
Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.77) vs. LHP Sean Newcomb (12-9, 4.04)
Aaron Nola (16-5, 2.44) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (11-10, 2.90)