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Marlins chase another win over Phils in wild-card showdown

Sep 2, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola (27) pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins shook off a 10-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, following with an impressive, come-from-behind win on Friday.

Miami (73-68) rallied for a 3-2 victory over the host Philadelphia Phillies as it looks to stay in contention for a wild-card berth in the National League. The teams will square off again on Saturday in the middle game of a three-game series.

Pinch hitter Jesus Sanchez hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning and Jacob Stallings added a solo homer in the seventh to lift the Marlins to a huge victory.

“That’s the best part, in the biggest games of the year to come up big for the guys like that,” Stallings said in a postgame interview on Bally Sports Florida. “Everybody is so excited coming back to the dugout. That’s why I play. I love being on a team. It’s the first playoff race I’ve ever been in. To come up big is certainly very cool.”

Miami manager Skip Schumaker said, “These guys fight and they don’t quit. They believe that they can do it. I’m just really proud of their effort every single game.”

The Marlins, who trail the Arizona Diamondbacks (74-68) by a half-game for the third NL wild card, will hand the ball to Johnny Cueto (1-3, 5.54 ERA) on Saturday.

In his last start, on Sept. 2 against the Washington Nationals, Cueto allowed five hits and three runs in five-plus innings. He gave up two solo homers in his first start in two weeks, as he was sidelined due to a viral infection.

“Every time I go to the mound, my mentality is to win games,” Cueto said after the outing. “All I can do is try to help the team.”

Cueto is 2-6 with a 5.29 ERA in 14 career starts against the Phillies. He lost to Philadelphia on Aug. 3 after yielding four runs on five hits in six-plus innings.

The Phillies split a six-game road trip against the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres over the past week, then failed to hold a 2-0 lead against the Marlins on Friday.

The goal now is to bounce back and even the series.

Still, the Phillies (77-63) hold the top NL wild-card spot with a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs (76-66).

The Phillies need to improve on offense after going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranding eight on Friday.

“The San Diego series, we left a lot of guys on base,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “I think we’re just going through a period.”

Trea Turner returned from missing two games on paternity leave, and he contributed a solo home run, a single, a walk, a stolen base and two runs. Bryce Harper added an RBI single.

“I’m glad my timing was still there,” Turner said. “I didn’t really know how a couple of days would affect me.”

Cleanup hitter Nick Castellanos went 0-for-4 and had his average dip to .268. Thomson declined comment when asked if he would drop Castellanos, who is 3-for-29 (.103) in September, down in the lineup.

“He’s jumping, super aggressive (at the plate),” Thomson said.

Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.55 ERA) is expected to start for the Phillies.

In his most recent start, against the Brewers on Sept. 2, he gave up eight hits and a season-high seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Nola struck out five but walked three.

“He couldn’t stop momentum … with runners on base,” Thomson said.

Nola is 5-10 with a 3.43 ERA in 22 career starts against the Marlins. In two starts vs. Miami this year, he is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA.

–Field Level Media