PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Josh Johnson did his best to shut down Philadelphia early, taking a no-hitter and a lead into the sixth.
Jimmy Rollins erased Miami’s spoiler bid with one big swing.
Rollins hit a two-run homer and Cliff Lee pitched seven strong innings to lead the streaking Phillies to their seventh straight win, 3-1 over the Marlins on Wednesday.
“It’s been that way all year,” Johnson said. “One pitch here, a play there. It’s always going against us.”
All those plays have added up to the Marlins mired in last place in the NL East in manager Ozzie Guillen’s first season.
They were having fun on the other side of the field.
The Phillies continued their late push for an NL wild-card spot with a three-game sweep of theMarlins. Up next for the Phillies, four games in Houston against the NL-worst Astros.
Philadelphia pulled within three games of St. Louis for the second NL wild card after the Cardinals lost 3-2 in San Diego.
The Phillies (72-71) are on a season-best winning streak and have won 15 of 19 to move over .500 for the first time since they were 28-27 on June 3.
Rollins hit a two-run homer off Johnson (8-12) in the seventh for a 3-1 lead.
“We’re in it,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’re dead in it pretty good.”
Oh yes, they are. And they show no signs of slowing down.
Phillippe Aumont worked a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon completed the four-hitter with his 34th save. Papelbon fanned Gorkys Hernandez with two runners on to end it.
The five-time defending NL East champion Phillies have made an amazing run since they seemed out of contention at 37-51 on July 13. Fueled by a rotation that has found its groove, and unexpected contributions from role players, the Phillies have become one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Their 15-4 record since Aug. 23 is the best in the National League and they are 21-8 in their last 29 home games.
Rollins led off the sixth inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on John Mayberry Jr.’s two-out single to center.
With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley slumping, the Phillies have relied on clutch hits from unheralded players like Mayberry during this recent streak. Mayberry beat Colorado on Sunday with the winning single in the ninth inning.
But it’s the stars like Rollins who still need to shine during the stretch drive.
Lee (5-7) seemed headed toward a tough luck no-decision until the offense came through with timely hits in the seventh.
Pinch hitting for Lee, Pete Orr hit a two-out single. Rollins followed with his 19th homer, a two-run shot to right, that sent the late-afternoon crowd into a frenzy and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead.
Lee struck out the side in the fourth inning and fanned Hernandez to open the fifth. He tossed four-hit ball and struck out six in seven innings to earn only his second home victory of the season.
Lee has regained his Cy Young form after making 13 starts to open the season without a win. He also had a stint on the disabled list and even had a 10-inning scoreless outing wasted against San Francisco when the Giants won 1-0 in the 11th.
“It’s their pitching, that’s how they’re back in it,” Guillen said.
Lee allowed only an unearned run in the sixth after two straight Marlins batters reached on errors.
Rollins, who leads all NL shortstops in fielding percentage, booted Donovan Solo’s grounder. Jose Reyes hit a one-hopper that Lee snagged wide of the mound, whirled around and threw wide to second for an error. Carlos Lee followed two batters later with an RBI single to right for the 1-0 lead.
That’s the kind of sloppy play that might have done in the Phillies before the All-Star break.
Not this month.
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