Zack Wheeler homered as the Phillies beat the D-backs 6-1 to lead the NLCS 3-2

By David Brandt

Kyle Schwarber got a dangling breaking ball in the top of the strike zone in the sixth inning and did what he’s done so well in the postseason, wiping the baseball deep into the seats for another home run.

The formidable Philadelphia Phillies have looked lethal for several days during a pair of frustrating one-game losing streaks. Their response on Saturday night showed they were far from done.

Zack Wheeler pitched another postseason gem with seven scoreless innings, Schwarber, Bryce Harper and JT Realmulto all homered and the Phillies defeated 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 it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to last night, but it was great to be able to turn the page and really put our focus and effort into it.”

Philadelphia moved one win away from its second straight World Series appearance and regained control after squandering late leads in back-to-back losses at Chase Field.

Bryson Stott hit an RBI single and Harper slid home on a collision with catcher Gabriel Moreno on a double steal that built a 2-0 lead in the first off Zac Gallen. It was part of a big game for Harper, 30, who had two hits, three runs, a diving defensive play and a long homer.

“He’s as good as they get,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Maybe the best I’ve ever had, just watching him every day.

Harper, who returned from Tommy John surgery in May, is batting .343 with five homers, eight RBIs and 12 walks in 11 postseason games.

“I just want to win. And it is done. Whatever it is, whatever it will be, whatever it will look like,” he said. “It was a big game for us. To come here and get one is huge. It’s a good team there. We used everything we could.”

Schwarber’s homer was his fifth of the NLCS and 20th of his postseason career as Philadelphia’s lineup beat Gallen for the second time in the series. Schwarber’s sixth-inning drive traveled 461 feet over the pool behind the fence in right-center, silencing the 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 a 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 walked five hits 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 starting pitchers have a 1.48 ERA this postseason with 67 hits and just seven walks in 61 innings.

Gallen gave up four runs and six hits in six innings, falling to 2-2 with a 5.24 in four playoff outings. He allowed five runs over five innings in the Game 1 loss to Wheeler.

Alek Thomas homered in the seventh for the Diamondbacks, a day after his game-tying home run in the eighth sparked Arizona to an evening series victory. Thomas has a team-high four homers this season.

Schwarber, batting .412 with five solo homers in the series, reached on an infield single to lead off the game and scored on Stott’s two-out single. Stott’s run to second on a steal produced a throw from Moreno to second baseman Ketel Marte, who stepped in front of the base and made an errant throw that bounced past Moreno.

Harper collided with Moreno at home plate, dazzled the catcher, but who stayed in the game. The umpires ruled that Harper could not have avoided the collision because Marte’s throw pulled Moreno down the third base line.

“We made some mistakes today,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We didn’t capitalize on some key situations and that was the difference in the game.”

THE SLUG MASTER

Schwarber hit a record-low 20 postseason homers in 63 games. The first mark was held by Houston’s Jose Altuve at 68 games.

A RARE STEAL

Harper’s home steal was the first in Phillies postseason history and just the 22nd in MLB postseason history. It was the ninth steal of home since the start of the playoffs in 1969 and the first since Randy Arozaren in Tampa Bay in 2021.

LINEUP CHANGES

Pavin Smith went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first start of the postseason, batting in the fifth as the designated hitter. Tommy Pham was benched after going 1-for-13 in the first four games of the NLCS. Smith has entered 3 of 4 this postseason.

ROOF CLOSED

Temperatures hovered around 100 in Phoenix, leaving Chase Field’s retractable roof closed for the third straight game. …28-time Olympic swimming medalist Michael Phelps threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

NEXT UP

RHP Aaron Nola (3-0, 0.96 ERA on the postseason) starts Monday for the Phillies and RHP Merrill Kelly (1-1, 3.00 ERA) starts for the Diamondbacks.

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