Zack Wheeler and the Phillies finish off a sweep of the Rangers

Philadelphia Phillies


Stop us if you’ve read this synopsis before: The offense scored five runs on a few timely hits, including one by a fill-in shortstop and another by a reserve outfielder who starts once a week, to back a starting pitcher who completed seven innings.

Oh, and the Phillies won. Again.

Rinse and repeat.

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Having raced to the best 50-game start in franchise history, the Phillies added to it Thursday. Behind ace Zack Wheeler, they racked up a ho-hum 5-2 victory over the Rangers — the defending World Series champs, by the way — to sweep yet another series before packing their 37-14 record and leaving for a six-game West Coast trip.

For posterity, the Phillies are the 24th team since 1901 to win at least 37 of the first 51 games. Eleven of those juggernauts won the World Series, which is really all the Phillies care about. Because not every historic start is created equal. Ask the 2001 Mariners and the 1998 Yankees.

But that’s a discussion for another day. In a midweek matinee, another sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park — 42,377 paying customers — feasted its eyes on a victory fueled by Cristian Pache’s two-run triple and another gem by Wheeler.

With lefty Andrew Heaney on the mound for the Rangers, manager Rob Thomson gave Pache his first start since May 18. On cue, Pache broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning against Heaney with a drive beyond Evan Carter’s outstretched glove in left-center field.

Edmundo Sosa, who started the rally with a one-out double, and Whit Merrifield scored to open a two-run lead that grew to 4-1 on Kyle Schwarber’s RBI single and seemed even larger in Wheeler’s hands.

Wheeler did have one tense moment. He was on cruise control in the seventh inning when Nathaniel Lowe and Leody Taveras notched back-to-back two-out singles. Ezequiel Duran singled on a line drive off diving second baseman Bryson Stott’s glove to cut the margin to 4-2.

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After a brief meeting on the mound, Wheeler uncorked a wild pitch and walked Jonah Heim to load the bases. But with his 91st pitch, Wheeler got dangerous Marcus Semien to pop out to first base and quash the threat.

Was there much doubt?

The way things are going for the Phillies, no situation ever seems out of their control.

It helps, of course, that the Phillies have scored four or more runs in 13 straight games, their longest streak since a 15-day stretch in 2004. Even Nick Castellanos got into the act. The struggling right fielder homered in the seventh inning, his first extra-base hit since May 12.

The Phillies are 15-3 without shortstop Trea Turner, in large measure because Sosa is doing a dynamite impression of Turner. Sosa notched three more hits and is 14-for-41 (.341) in 14 starts in place of Turner.

For a second consecutive game, the Phillies fell behind early.

And, once again, it didn’t matter.

This time, Adolis García tagged Wheeler for a leadoff homer to open the second inning. Travis Jankowski followed with a single, and the Rangers had the makings of a rally.

But Wheeler retired the next three batters, nine in a row, and 11 of 12. By then, the Phillies had given him a lead that proved to be airtight.



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