Phillies demolish Braves, carry game’s best record into the break

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The Philadelphia offense came up with 14 largely unnecessary runs in support of All-Star Cole Hamels to rout the Braves on Sunday and finish the first half 57-34.

Hamels gave up just one run and three hits in improving to 11-4 this season.  He has a 2.32 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP, but he was officially scratched from the All-Star Game roster because he pitched today.

Derek Lowe surrendered four runs over six innings for Atlanta.  The Phillies did most of their damage against the underbelly of the Braves bullpen, roughing up Cory Gearrin and Scott Proctor for 10 runs in two innings.

Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homer and drove in six runs for Philadelphia.  John Mayberry Jr. doubled three times and knocked in four runs.  Even Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez had four hits, raising his average from .192 to .229.

The Phillies won two out of three in the series to open up a 3 1/2-game lead on the Braves in the NL East.  The Braves, though, are five games ahead in the wild card as play shuts down for the next three days.

Report: Nationals to interview Alex Cora for managerial position

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.

Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.

Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.