PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper stood on second base after a go-ahead double and ran his hands across the script “Phillies” on his jersey as Citizens Bank Park shook in ecstasy over a World Series that suddenly seemed oh-so-close.
Harper punched his fists toward the ground and blurted a cuss-filled exclamation sure to be printed on T-shirts everywhere in Philly:
“This is my (expletive) house!”
With one more win, it will be a home for the World Series.
Rhys Hoskins homered twice, Kyle Schwarber hit a solo shot into shrubbery and Harper doubled to put Philadelphia ahead for good in a wild 10-6 win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night for a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.
“I believe our team is built for October, I really do,” Harper said.
Harper — who signed a 13-year, $330 million free-agent deal in 2019 — had made Philly both his home and a championship contender with a postseason already among the greatest in franchise history. He’s hit in nine straight games, reached base in 10 straight games, is hitting .410 in the postseason and already told his team they weren’t losing in the postseason.
“It’s just a lot of fun to be able to be part of this group,” Harper said. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to come to the park every day knowing our fans are going to show out each night.”
J.T. Realmuto also homered for the big-hitting Phillies, who are trying to become the first third-place team to reach the Fall Classic.
The Phillies send ace Zack Wheeler to the mound in Game 5 Sunday at Citizens Bank Park to try and clinch their first National League pennant since 2009. They haven’t won the World Series since 2008.
“Yeah, you can’t write it better,” Hoskins said. “I can’t imagine what tomorrow is going to be like.”
Get the champagne ready, just in case.
No matter the outcome, Game 4 was one to remember for the Phillies and their fans.
The Phillies trailed 4-0 in the first and then chipped away, slugged away and finally put away the Padres. The clincher came in a four-run fifth inning against reliever Sean Manaea. Trailing 6-4, Schwarber walked to start the rally. Hoskins then ripped his second homer of the game — no bat spike, but just as dramatic — for the tying shot. Realmuto walked to set the stage for Harper.
The 2021 NL MVP lined the go-ahead double that rolled to the left-center wall for a 7-6 lead as the Philly crowd absolutely exploded. Harper then told the fans exactly where he lived — and his house is their home, too.
The Phillies fans refused to sit — and they had no reason to the rest of the game. Nick Castellanos singled in Harper to complete the scoring in the fifth.
Schwarber smashed the ball into the shrubs in dead center in the sixth for his third homer of this series and Realmuto punctuated the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh.
The Phillies 1-5 hitters went 9-for-18 with four homers, three doubles, nine RBIs and 10 runs scored.
“You get the one big hit, it gets louder, and that’s where you can really snowball things,” Hoskins said. “We’re not new to scoring runs in bunches, but in the playoffs when things are so much tighter and more intense, the crowd is one way to kind of let that snowball happen, and we saw it twice tonight.”
The Padres and Phillies had already nearly stuffed nine innings worth of commotion into 48 minutes of a frenzied first.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson picked Bailey Falter to start Game 4 after a 17-day layoff and hoped the lefty could at least go once through the order. He couldn’t do much beyond retire the first two batters. Manny Machado rocked a homer to left and answered the chants of “Manny Sucks!” by cupping his right hand to his ear as he rounded the bases.
Falter let the next two runners reach and Brandon Drury lined a two-RBI double off the right field wall for a 3-0 lead. That was it for Falter. Reliever Connor Brogdon allowed an RBI single to Ha-Seong Kim to make it 4-0.
Bad outing for Falter? Absolutely.
The worst for a starting pitcher? Nope.
Mike Clevinger allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the first and then Hoskins’ first homer of the game that cut the lead to 4-2. He walked Realmuto and Harper hit an RBI double to make it 4-3. Harper stood on second and ran his hands along the “Phillies” on his jersey as the crowd and Citizens Bank Park began to shake.
So much for Clevinger, out of the game without recording an out.
By the time No. 5 hitter Castellanos batted, there had been four total pitchers and three total outs. The combined first inning totals saw seven runs, seven hits, two homers, two doubles — oh, and the fun was just getting started.
Brogdon and Padres reliever Nick Martinez actually steadied the game, as they combined to retire 16 straight over 5 1/3 shutout innings.
“I wouldn’t bet against us. I have a lot of confidence in my guys,” Martinez said. “We’re not going to give in. We’re going to keep coming.”
That was the lone stretch of normalcy in this one. Not even the red rally towels frantically waved by another sellout crowd of 45,467 got as much of a workout as both bullpens.
Bryson Stott lined an opposite-field single to left in the fourth that tied the game 4-all and gave the Phillies new life.
Well, for a few pitches, at least.
Because the much-maligned Brad Hand, the fourth pitcher of the game, coughed up the lead in the fifth. He issued a one-out walk and then Juan Soto lined a two-run homer to right, his first of the postseason and first since Oct. 1 against the White Sox.
It was 6-4 Padres.
And it was the beginning of the end.
“We only need to win one to get home,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Wheeler faces Padres RHP Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.84 ERA in the postseason).
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