PHOENIX (AP) — Kyle Schwarber got a hanging breaking ball at the top of the strike zone in the sixth inning and did what he does so well in the postseason, obliterate a baseball deep into the seats for another home run.
The formidable Philadelphia Phillies looked mortal for a couple days during a pair of frustrating one-run losses. Their response on Saturday night proved that they’re far from finished.
Zack Wheeler delivered another postseason gem with seven shutdown innings, Schwarber, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmulto all homered and the Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 to take a 3-2 NL Championship Series lead.
“Everything was fantastic,” Schwarber said. “It was a great response. Obviously, didn’t work out the way we wanted last night, but it was great that we were able to turn the page and really put our focus and effort into this one.”
Philadelphia moved one win from its second straight World Series appearance, regaining control after wasting late leads in consecutive losses at Chase Field.
Bryson Stott hit an RBI single and Harper slid home in a collision with catcher Gabriel Moreno as part of a double steal that built a 2-0 lead in the first off Zac Gallen. It was part of a big game for the 30-year-old Harper, who had two hits, three runs, a diving defensive play and his long homer.
“He’s as good as they get,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “He might be the best I’ve been around, just watching him on a daily basis.”
Harper, who returned in May from Tommy John surgery, is batting .343 with five homers, eight RBIs and 12 walks in 11 postseason games.
“I just want to win. That’s it. Whatever that takes, whatever that’s going to be, whatever that’s going to look like,” he said. “That was a big game for us. Coming in here and getting one is huge. That’s a good team over there. We took advantage of everything we could.”
Schwarber’s homer was his fifth in the NLCS and 20th of his postseason career as the Philadelphia lineup roughed up Gallen for a second time this series. Schwarber’s sixth-inning drive traveled 461 feet over the swimming pool beyond the right-center fence, quieting a crowd of 47,897. Two batters later, Harper hit a 444-foot homer into the right-field seats.
Realmuto added a two-run homer in the eighth against Luis Frías for 6-1 lead.
The series resumes Monday in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are 6-0 this postseason with 17 homers.
Wheeler, a 33-year-old right-hander, gave up one run and five hits with a walk while striking out eight. He is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four postseason starts this year, striking out 34 and walking two in 26 innings.
“He gave us exactly what we needed,” Thomson said.
Philadelphia’s starting pitchers have a 1.48 ERA in this postseason with 67 strikeouts and just seven walks in 61 innings.
Gallen gave up four runs and six hits six innings, dropping to 2-2 with a 5.24 in four playoff outings. He allowed five runs over five innings in taking the Game 1 loss to Wheeler.
Alek Thomas homered in the seventh for the Diamondbacks, a day after his tying home run in the eighth sparked Arizona to a series-evening win. Thomas has a team record four homers this postseason.
Schwarber, batting .412 with five solo homers in the series, reached on an infield single starting the game and scored on Stott’s two-out single. Stott’s dash for second on a steal drew a throw from Moreno to second baseman Ketel Marte, who stepped in front of the base and made an errant return throw that bounced past Moreno.
Harper collided with Moreno at home plate, dazing the catcher, but who remained in the game. Umpires ruled Harper couldn’t have avoided the collision because Marte’s throw drew Moreno down the third-base line.
“We made some mistakes today,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We didn’t capitalize in some key situations and that was the difference in the game.”
MASTER OF SLUG
Schwarber reached 20 postseason homers in 63 games, a record low. The prior mark was held by Houston’s Jose Altuve at 68 games.
Harper’s steal of home was the first in Phillies’ postseason history and just the 22nd in MLB postseason history. It was the ninth steal of home in since playoffs started in 1969 and the first since Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena in 2021.
Pavin Smith went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first start of the postseason, batting him fifth as the designated hitter. Tommy Pham was benched after hitting 1 of 13 in the first four games of the NLCS. Smith entered 3 of 4 this postseason.
Temperatures hovered around 100 in Phoenix, so Chase Field’s retractable roof was closed for the third straight game. … 28-time Olympic swimming medalist Michael Phelps threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
RHP Aaron Nola (3-0, 0.96 ERA postseason) starts Monday for the Phillies and RHP Merrill Kelly (1-1, 3.00 ERA) for the Diamondbacks.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
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