Vierling’s RBI single in 10th lifts Phillies past Blue Jays

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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PHILADELPHIA – Matt Vierling had five hits, including the game-winning RBI single in the 10th, to rally the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

J.T. Realmuto homered as Philadelphia snapped a five-game losing streak to stay 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the final NL wild-card spot.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Vierling said. “Definitely needed it. We grinded all night.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a three-run homer for the Blue Jays, who lead the AL wild-card standings.

Bryson Stott led off the 10th with a sacrifice bunt to move pinch-runner Yairo Munoz to third. Adam Cimber (10-6) then hit Jean Segura before walking Dalton Guthrie on four pitches to load the bases.

Vierling hit a 1-1 chopper up the middle past the five Blue Jays on the infield, then raised his right fist high in the air as he ran to first before being mobbed by his teammates between first and second. The celebration got so rowdy that one of his teammates ripped Vierling’s shirt off his body.

“It got ripped,” Vierling said. “Three buttons fell off. Hopefully, they’ll give me another one.”

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 10th against Andrew Bellatti (4-3). But Teoscar Hernandez lined out sharply to second baseman Segura, who stepped on second to double off Bradley Zimmer.

A night after combining for 29 runs in a game in which the Blue Jays recorded 21 hits – including 10 for extra bases – in an 18-11 win, this game was scoreless through seven innings. After Whit Merrifield led off the eighth with a single, shortstop Stott committed a pivotal throwing error on George Springer‘s routine grounder. Guerrero made the Phillies pay by driving Seranthony Dominguez’s 1-0, 99-mph sinker into the seats in left for his 30th homer to extend his hitting streak to 14 consecutive games.

Realmuto led off the eighth with a solo shot to left off Yimi Garcia, Philadelphia got within a run on Guthrie’s two-out RBI single to right and Kyle Schwarber tied it with a single to right off Jordan Romano.

Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman gave up five hits while striking out eight and walking two in six innings.

“It’s unfortunate the way we lost, but we’ll just continue to play good baseball,” Gausman said. “It’s gonna happen. That’s baseball. Thai time of year, you don’t want to dwell on anything. On to the next game.”

Phillies starter Zack Wheeler was lifted after four innings in his first outing since Aug. 20 due to right forearm tendinitis. The 2021 NL Cy Young runner-up looked like his old self, giving up two hits, striking out three and walking none while throwing 58 pitches.

“I felt good, felt strong, felt healthy,” Wheeler said.

Noah Syndergaard, acquired by the at the trade deadline, came on for Wheeler and gave up three hits in two innings in his second relief appearance in his 145th career game.

STREAKING JAY

Guerrero is batting .306 with three homers and seven RBIs during his hitting streak.

STRUGGLING PHILLIE

Bryce Harper has struggled since returning on Aug. 26 from a two-month absence due to a broken left thumb and is now batting .220 with two homers and 10 RBIs since his comeback after going 0 for 5 with a pair of strikeouts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: Cavan Biggio replaced 2B Santiago Espinal in the seventh after Espinal experienced left side discomfort.

Phillies: OF Brandon Marsh was not in the lineup a night after suffering a left knee contusion while crashing into the wall in left-center.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Open four-game set at Tampa Bay on Thursday. RHP Jose Berrios (11-5, 4.99) starts for Toronto. The Rays haven’t announced their starter.

Phillies: Begin four-game home series against Atlanta on Thursday, with LHP Ranger Suarez (9-5, 3.53) set to face Braves LHP Max Fried (13-6, 2.52).

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).