PHILADELPHIA (AP) Cristopher Sanchez perked up when he heard Kyle Schwarber's name dropped in a question to the Spanish-speaking pitcher.
Sanchez said through a translator that after he returned to the clubhouse after five shutout innings, he had one thing to say to a trainer about his slugging teammate: ''Thank God I have him on my side now.''
J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run shot and a sacrifice fly as the Phillies won for the fourth time in five games. Alec Bohm had two hits and three RBIs, and Nick Castellanos drove in two runs.
''I feel like we're doing a really good job of not going outside the box and trying to do more,'' Schwarber said.
Schwarber never got the memo that the calendar flipped from June to July. The NL Player of the Month picked up the slack for an injured Bryce Harper when he slugged 12 homers in June and blasted the Phillies into wild-card contention. Just days into July, Schwarber hasn't slowed down -- and neither have the Phillies.
''It's a lot of fun. He seems like he's right in the middle of everything,'' Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said.
Schwarber opened the game against Paolo Espino (0-2) with his third leadoff homer this season and No. 16 for his career. His shot to center sent Victor Robles dangling over the fence in a futile bid to snag the ball.
Schwarber left no doubt in the third, drilling a solo shot into the second deck in right for his 18th career multihomer game. It was his fifth homer in eight games.
His list of prodigious power stats go almost as long as one of his no-doubt homers: Schwarber's 25 homers are the sixth-most ever for a Phillie before the All-Star break - and he's just six homers away from tying the record of 31 set by Mike Schmidt in 1979. He has seven homers in 12 games, a power display that looked familiar in the Washington dugout; he hit 25 homers in 72 games for the Nationals last season before he was traded to Boston.
''We've seen it before,'' Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. ''You leave a ball out over the plate for him or leave a ball up in the zone, he can hit it a long way. Tonight was a perfect example of that.''
The Phillies hit the halfway point of their season - Tuesday marked Game No. 81 - percentage points ahead of St. Louis for the final NL wild card. They got a nice boost from Sanchez, who tossed two-hit ball over five innings in his first start since he was called up from Triple-A Lehigh to step in for the injured Ranger Suarez (back spasm). Sanchez (1-1) didn't do anything fancy over 82 pitches but combined with three relievers to help the Phillies win the opener of the three-game set.
The scuffling Nationals again played without star outfielder Juan Soto (calf) in the starting lineup.
The Phillies scored two more in the fourth when homer-happy Darick Hall (his first three big league hits were homers) drilled a double off the padding above the 401 marker in center. Realmuto added a sacrifice fly and Bohm scored Hall on an RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
Hall singled in the fifth and scored on Realmuto's seventh homer of the season.
The streaking Phillies are 22-9 since June 1 and 21-9 under Thomson. He's the second Phillies manager to start with that many wins through his first 30 games. They've done their damage with the bats, winning 18 of their last 20 when they score four-plus runs.
They reached that total alone with a five-run sixth highlighted by Bohm's two-run single.
''We're starting to figure each other out. We're all getting closer as a group,'' Schwarber said.
Nationals: DH Nelson Cruz was a late scratch with an illness. Former Phillie Maikel Franco got the start.
Phillies: Claimed LHP Sam Clay off waivers from the Nationals and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... SS Didi Gregorius missed a third straight game with a sore left knee.
Nationals infielder Alcides Escobar tossed a scoreless eighth throwing mostly in the 40-50-mph range. He plunked Bohm with a 47.5 mph curveball.
Harper said he will return from his broken left thumb and play this season. Harper didn't put a timetable on his return. Harper was injured late last month when he was hit by a 97 mph pitch from San Diego Padres left-hander Blake Snell. The 2021 NL MVP had three pins put in his thumb during surgery that will be there for at least three more weeks.
''If I knew a specific date that I'd be back, I'd tell you,'' Harper said. ''I just don't think it's fair to anybody. I'll be back when I'm ready to go.''
The Phillies send RHP Aaron Nola (5-5, 3.13 ERA) to the mound against Washington RHP Josiah Gray (6-5, 4.22 ERA).
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