By Sam Bush
This was a game the Phillies had to win after the nightmarish weekend series with the Mets that saw them lose three of four.
The buzz in town was that the Phils could never beat the Mets.
Well, last night they beat the Reds 4-1 behind Noah Syndergaard’s seven strong innings and Nick Castellanos and Bryson Stott homers.
Alec Bohm added three hits, a day hitting a pair of three-run homers, as Philadelphia moved ahead of idle San Diego for second place in the NL wild-card race.
Syndergaard (8-8) allowed one run on three hits with one strikeout and two walks. The 29-year-old right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts with Philadelphia since being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels early this month at the trade deadline.
“My time here so far has been amazing,” Syndergaard said. “I feel like I’m on cloud nine.”
The Phillies got a boost before the game with news that slugger Bryce Harper will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday.
The NL MVP hasn’t played since breaking his left thumb on June 25. Lehigh Valley is hosting Gwinnett for a six-game series, and Harper is expected to play there through Saturday, take Sunday off and possibly return to the Phillies’ lineup on Monday when they begin a three-game series at Arizona.
The Phillies improved to 29-20 since Harper last played. He is batting .318 with 15 homers and 48 RBI in 64 games.
Andrew Bellatti pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
The game was delayed for 57 minutes at the start due to rain.
Castellanos extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games by leading off the second inning with a drive off Luis Cessa (3-2) into the batter’s eye in center. It was the 12th home run of the season for Castellanos, who got a five-year, $100 million contract this past offseason from Philadelphia after compiling 34 homers and 100 RBI in his second season with the Reds last year.
It has taken Castellanos some time to get comfortable in Philadelphia, and he has heard some boos from Phillies fans this season. But he’s starting to get in a groove.
“For me, everything is about familiarity and comfort,” he said. “Feeling good in my surroundings and where I’m at, and everything else usually follows.”
Reds manager David Bell, who was at the helm druing Castellanos’ time in Cincinnati, sees a similar player.
“He’s always been able to hit,” Bell said. “I haven’t seen him as much as people here, but he definitely looks like the same guy. He’s in great shape. It looks like he’s swinging the bat well.”
Stott followed Castellanos’ shot with a long drive into the second deck in right field to make it 2-0, marking the seventh time this season the Phillies have homered in consecutive at-bats, to give Syndergaard plenty of cushion.
“He comes to compete, pounds the strike zone and is fun to play defense behind,” Castellanos said.
After Castellanos’ RBI double in the third made it 3-0, Cincinnati got on the board in the fifth when Romine went deep for the first time this season and 29th in 1,373 career plate appearances.
Philadelphia got the run back in the bottom of the frame on J.T. Realmuto’s RBI double to the gap in right-center.
Cessa, making his second start of the season following 34 consecutive relief appearances, gave up two runs on three hits in two innings.