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They all count the same: Phillies 5, Cardinals 4

Let’s just not make a habit of it.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies (80-67) rebounded from a disappointing homestand with a narrow 5-4 road win in the opening game of a weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals (65-82).

The offense was all over Cardinals’ starter, Zack Thompson, from the jump. After back to back one-out singles by Trea Turner and Alec Bohm put runners on first and third, Bryce Harper grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Turner for a 1-0 lead. On the next two pitches, Thompson went fastball to JT Realmuto and cutter to Nick Castellanos which were respectively returned for a single and a three-run bomb.

Harper was ejected in the third inning for questioning the infallibility of home plate umpire, Alex Tosi. Harper was ahead 2-1 in the at-bat when a high fastball that should have been ball three was called a strike. Harper struck out swinging on the next pitch to end the frame and he was perturbed.

The Cardinals’ hitters began to chip away at Aaron Nola and the lead in the bottom of the third inning with a walk and three singles to halve the deficit before Willson Contreras grounded into a double play to stop the bleeding.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Cardinals’ tacked on another run with a sac fly after a one-out infield single and a throwing error by Nola left runners on the corners.

After the early scoring, the Phillies’ bats went cold in the middle innings, with only three baserunners on a single by Johan Rojas and walks by Cristian Pache and Bryson Stott.

But they finally broke through in the top of the sixth after the Cardinals went to their bullpen. Edmundo Sosa, who took Harper’s spot in the batting order following the ejection, sent a 2-1 slider from Cardinals’ reliever, Casey Lawrence, to the left field gap. Realmuto would follow with an RBI single to get the lead back up to two runs.

Nola would make it only 4.2 IP, allowing back to back two-out singles before giving way to Matt Strahm who retired his only batter of the night with a strikeout to end the fifth inning.

Jeff Hoffman and Seranthony Dominguez combined for two relatively stress-free innings in the sixth and seventh before co-closers, Craig Kimbrel and Jose Alvarado, brought a whole bunch of unsolicited drama to the party.

K&A combined to allow five walks and two hits and each loaded the bases. Both hits were surrendered by Alvarado, the second of which scored a runner and made it a one-run game. With the bases loaded after another walk, Alvarado struck out Lars Nootbaar on three pitches (all 99-100 mph) to end the game and seal the W.

With tonight’s win and the Cubs’ loss to the Diamondbacks, the Phillies currently hold a 2.5 game lead for the first wild card spot.

The Phillies are 4-0 against the Cardinals so far this season with two games to go.

Ranger Suarez goes up against Miles Mikolas tomorrow night.