PHILADELPHIA (AP) Zack Wheeler bailed out a stretched-out bullpen and struck out six over 7 1/3 innings, and the Philadelphia Phillies continued their scorching start with a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

The Phillies needed just 2 hours, 15 minutes in front of another jam-packed crowd of 44,507 to improve to 32-14, the best record in baseball.

The Phillies won the opener for the 13th time in the last 14 series, setting an early tone for success, even as they went hitless in this one after the third inning.

“Our pitching's been carrying us and they set the tone for us,” left fielder Brandon Marsh said. “As of late, we only need to get them a couple (runs) and they get the job done.”

Wheeler (5-3) received a rousing standing ovation when he was lifted with one out in the eighth inning. He allowed two runs and threw 104 pitches to win his fifth straight decision. Wheeler improbably went 0-3 over his first four starts - and the Phillies lost all four games - before he resumed his spot as one of the best pitchers in baseball.

The right-hander has been outshined at times this season by lefty Ranger Suárez and his 8-0 record, but there's still no other pitcher the Phillies want on the bump for a big game.

A night after the Phillies used six relievers in an extra-inning loss, Wheeler tossed his seventh quality start of the season and his 71st with the Phillies. He is tied with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole for the most quality starts in the major leagues since 2020. Wheeler has a 1.62 ERA with 525 strikeouts in 477 2/3 innings over that span.

“A lot of guys got used last night, so I just tried to go as deep as I can and also win the game,” Wheeler said.

Jeff Hoffman worked the ninth for his third save.

On a gorgeous night for baseball - a rare warm home game that Wheeler credited to an uptick in velocity to 98 mph early - and with a stadium that sold out early in part because of a Bryson Stott bobblehead promotion, Wheeler and the Phillies were never in serious danger against the overmatched Nationals.

The homer-happy Phillies - one of only five teams in the National League with a winning record - didn't even need to go deep in this one.

Alec Bohm and Marsh each had RBI doubles off Nationals starter Jake Irvin (2-4). Marsh scored on a wild pitch and Kyle Schwarber added an RBI groundout. That's a fairly nondescript way to win a game for a team that usually thrilled on its way to winning six of its last eight games.

The Phillies started 0-2, lost two straight games on April 23 and 24 but otherwise have not dropped consecutive games all season.

“We're getting going early,” Marsh said. “With the staff that we've got and the bullpen to close it down, you get some runs early in the game, you've got a good chance.”

Irvin walked one and allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. He pitched his sixth game of the season with at least five innings while waking one or no batters.

Kelbert Ruiz and Eddie Rosario had RBI doubles for the Nationals.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We settled down and we made it close. We've got to start hitting. Offensively, we need to start creating some longer innings, staring hitting balls hard, start putting balls in play.”


Nationals first baseman/designated hitter Joey Gallo was activated from the 10-day injured list and fielder Trey Lipscomb was optioned to Triple-A Rochester.


The Nationals send LHP MacKenzie Gore (2-4, 3.38 ERA) to the mound against Phillies LHP Cristopher Sánchez (2-3, 3.43)



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