By winning for the 14th time in 18 games, the Phillies restored their record to .500 at 71-71. The last time they were there was June 4 after a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers left them with a 28-28 record. The Phillies are within four games of the St. Louis Cardinals, who lead the race for the second wild-card playoff spot. The Cardinals lost in San Diego Tuesday night.
"Being .500 has never made so much noise around here, but I'm glad that it can," Jimmy Rollins said after contributing two hits, three runs, and three RBIs.
The shortstop believes .500 is a legitimate reason for more positive vibes in a clubhouse that was devoid of them for most of the season.
"Oh, definitely," he said, "anytime you can be in the hunt for the playoffs. You hear it as a cliche that this is what you play for in September, but it's true. In the past, we've had comebacks, last year we had a big lead. This year, we're trying to do something we never had and that's win a wild card. We have a lot of flags hanging up, but we don't have a wild-card flag, so it would be a good time to get one."
The signature moment signifying how the Phillies' luck has turned in recent weeks unfolded in the sixth inning.
With one out and the Marlins trailing by 6-3, Rollins hit a foul pop a few feet behind home plate. He started his discouraged walk back to the home dugout, but after just a few steps Marlins catcher Rob Brantly dropped the ball.
Rollins slammed reliever Chris Hatcher's next pitch, a 95-m.p.h. fastball, into the right-field seats, and the Phillies had an 8-3 lead.
"It was big because we needed every single run," Rollins said.
Roy Halladay, on a night when he was far from at his best, still won for the sixth time in eight starts and improved to 10-7, but only after some tense moments.
Halladay allowed five runs on seven hits in 61/3 innings and his earned run average climbed to 4.01. That is un-Halladayesque, but the pitcher still left to a round of applause with one out in the top of the seventh and was pleased with the result, if not the performance.
This victory was more about offense as the Phillies slammed 15 hits, with all nine starters, including Halladay, getting at least one hit. Juan Pierre and Chase Utley each contributed three hits.
The Phillies' sellout streak ended in early August, but even without a full ballpark there is a renewed energy. It could be felt in the first inning, when the Phillies scored three quick runs on a total of four hits.
Rollins opened the bottom of the first with a single to center, and quickly the bases were loaded with nobody out after a Pierre single and Utley walk. Rollins scored when Ryan Howard hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
Chants of "Chooch" followed as catcher Carlos Ruiz came to the plate. Ruiz, who missed more than a month with a foot injury, was making his first start since Aug. 2. He provided more proof that a month off could not cool his hot bat by delivering an RBI double off Nate Eovaldi.
Domonic Brown followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0 and the Phillies played from ahead the rest of the way.
A comfortable lead, however, became quite uncomfortable with the Marlins closing within a run in the seventh, then putting runners at second and third with one out in the eighth against Phillippe Aumont.
The rookie worked his way out of the jam with consecutive strikeouts of Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes, with both hitters swinging through Aumont's diving splitter.
"It was definitely my biggest challenge" in the big leagues, Aumont said. "Second and third with one out, you just have to keep focused and get out of there."
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect inning for his 33d save and after a long, sometimes difficult night the Phillies were able to continue their wildly improbable pursuit of that wild-card flag Rollins wants to see in Citizens Bank Park.
Contact Bob Brookover at email@example.com or on Twitter @brookob.