MLB Wild Card: Phillies come back to beat Nationals after longest rain delay in team history

Sunday didn’t go according to plan for the Phillies — far from it — but they still pulled out a 7-5 win, coming back twice against the Nationals after a miserably long rain delay to finish off a sweep.

The Phils and Nationals were determined to play Sunday and preserve the off-day they shared Monday even though the forecast called for rain all afternoon. The game began on time at 1:05 pm with Aaron Nola starting, and the Phillies held a one-run lead through two innings.

As Nola warmed up prior to the top of the third, home plate umpire Alex Tosi waved Phillies players off the field and a rain delay began.

A looooooooong rain delay. The longest single in-game rain delay in Phillies history at 3 hours, 36 minutes. The Phillies have played 118 full games this season that were shorter than Sunday’s delay.

“It was all up in the air,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We weren’t sure if we were going to get delayed. We knew it was going to rain but not whether it was going to be heavy enough.”

When play resumed, Nola was lost because of the lengthy hiatus and Christopher Sanchez was hit around, allowing four runs over two innings.

But the Phillies refused to go down quietly against the Nationals’ league-worst pitching staff. Rhys Hoskins brought them back twice with a three-run home run in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth. It paved the way for Alec Bohm’s game-winning two-run homer in the seventh.

“How do you stay locked in for 3½ hours? The short answer is you don’t,” Hoskins said. “There’s a little bit to start of, ‘OK, it’s light,’ and you stay locked in and loose. But after a while, it looked like the rain was going to stay. We got to be Eagles football fans for today which was pretty cool. We don’t get to do that on Sundays during the year. But after that, it’s talking about some of the pitchers we might face coming out of their bullpen, get physically loose.”

The Phillies swept the Nats again and went 5-1 on their homestand against Miami and Washington. They have won 21 of their last 25 games against the Marlins and Nationals, beating them by jumping ahead early or scoring runs late.

“We’ve been getting a lot of guys on base and if you continue to do that, traffic on the bases, stressful pitches for the other guys, eventually the big hit is going to come,” Hoskins said. “Today, we got a couple of big hits.

“There’s no panic in the dugout. We’ve come back too many times late, we’ve scored runs too many times late to not have confidence that it’s bound to happen again.”

Seranthony Dominguez was activated prior to the game. After missing nearly a month with triceps tendinitis, he pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. David Robertson picked up the save.

“Velocity was good,” Thomson said of Dominguez. “He got behind in the count but came right back. He looked good, he looked normal.”

The Phillies (78-62) gained ground on the Padres, who lost a second straight game. The Phils are in the second wild-card spot, 1½ games ahead of San Diego and 3½ ahead of Milwaukee, the first team out.

The Phils are idle Monday before opening a six-game road trip that takes them to Miami and Atlanta. Bailey Falter opposes Sandy Alcantara in Tuesday’s series opener. It will be the sixth time this season the Phillies have faced Alcantara, matching their most meetings with any starting pitcher since 1960.

“It’s a sprint,” Hoskins said. “We’ve got 22 (games) left. What more could you ask for as a competitor? We’d like to be in and clinched already but this is going to be as competitive as it gets.

“We know it’s there. We can feel it. But we need to win as many games as we can before we get there and that starts on Tuesday.”

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