All-Star Reliever Strahm Fans Shohei Ohtani in 7th with Tying Runs on Base, Phillies Top Dodgers 4-3

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Fans react after Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani struck out against Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyle Schwarber hit his eighth leadoff homer of the season, All-Star reliever Matt Strahm struck out two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani in the seventh inning to preserve the lead and the Philadelphia Phillies won again without Bryce Harper, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Wednesday night.

The Phillies won the first two games of the three-game set in a showdown of two NL division leaders. The Phillies continued to build on the best record in baseball and hit 60 wins. At 60-32, only the 1976 team (in 88 games) reached that mark faster in a season in franchise history.

The Phillies again beat Ohtani and the NL West leaders without Harper, out this time with a bruised left hand. Harper had missed the previous nine games with a strained left hamstring until he returned for Tuesday’s 10-1 win. A two-time NL MVP, Harper was hurt at an unspecified point, though he clearly grabbed his hand and hunched over in pain on a second-inning chopper by Miguel Rojas.

With an All-Star slugger sidelined, an All-Star relieved bailed out the Phillies.

Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Ohtani was fooled on an 83 mph slider and struck out swinging against the long-haired lefty Strahm with inherited runners on the corners and one out. Strahm retired Teoscar Hernández on a flyball to escape the jam.

The Dodgers made it 4-3 in the eighth. Jeff Hoffman — one of seven Phillies selected for the NL All-Star team — tossed a scoreless ninth inning for his ninth save.

Key cogs Harper, catcher J.T. Realmuto (out until after the All-Star break), outfielder Brandon Marsh and Schwarber have all been on the injured list for the Phillies this season. All-Star pitcher Zack Wheeler is fighting back stiffness.

Yet nothing has truly slowed a Phillies team determined to win the World Series they could not do — losing in Houston in 2022; losing to Arizona in the NL Championship Series in 2023 — each of the last two seasons.

If the Phillies are looking for that one last push ahead of the All-Star break to chase 70 wins at a franchise-record pace, a three-game weekend series against the Oakland A’s might get them there.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani follows through after hitting a run-scoring single against Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cristopher Sánchez during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Philadelphia.

Cristopher Sánchez (7-4) struck out five and allowed two runs in six innings for the Phillies on another sticky night in Philly. He coughed up a 2-0 lead and the Dodgers tied it on Ohtani’s RBI single in the fifth.

Sánchez has a 1.50 ERA (11 earned runs in 66 innings) in his 10 home starts this season.

Whit Merrifield — who led the AL with 10 triples in 2019 but hadn’t hit one since 2022 — opened the fifth with a lazy fly to center that Andy Pages lost in the lights. Merrifield hightailed it around first and landed on third for his 27th career triple. After Garrett Stubbs and Schwarber failed to hit the ball out of the infield, Merrifield scored on Trea Turner’s grounder. Turner made it to third on All-Star Alec Bohm’s NL-best 32nd double and scored on Bryson Stott’s infield single for a 4-2 lead.

Schwarber’s shot off Gavin Stone (9-3) was his 39th career leadoff homer. Stone allowed four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.