Harper, Schwarber home run as Wheeler, Phillies top Padres to open NLCS
The Phillies will try to take a 2-0 lead when they send Aaron Nola to mound to oppose Blake Snell on Wednesday afternoon.
Bryce Harper homered again, Kyle Schwarber hit a jaw-dropping, 488-foot drive and Zack Wheeler was brilliant in throwing one-hit ball for seven innings to lead the Philadelphia Phillies over the San Diego Padres 2-0 Tuesday night to open the all-wild card NL Championship Series.
Wheeler and two relievers combined on a one-hitter for Philadelphia. The Phillies managed just three hits off Yu Darvish and the San Diego bullpen — the combined four hits matched the fewest ever in a postseason game.
The Phillies will try to take a 2-0 lead when they send Aaron Nola to mound to oppose Blake Snell on Wednesday afternoon. Nola is set to pitch against his brother, Padres catcher Austin Nola.
The Padres, who eliminated the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, had only four baserunners, including a single by Wil Myers in the fifth. Still, they had a chance to win in the ninth against José Alvarado.
Jurickson Profar drew a one-out walk and Juan Soto reached when third baseman Alec Bohm made an errant throwing trying for a force. Manny Machado flied out and Alvarado struck out Josh Bell for the save, looking skyward and clapping after getting the final out.
Harper, trying to reach his first World Series, hit a high-arcing, opposite-field shot into the first row in left field with one out in the fourth. It was the fourth home run this postseason for Harper, who was playing in San Diego for the first time since his left thumb was broken when he was hit by a pitch by Blake Snell on June 25, sidelining him for two months.
Harper homered in his third straight postseason game. The two-time NL MVP, who won the award last year, has hit nine home runs in 26 career postsaseason games.
Schwarber’s incredible shot on Darvish’s first pitch of the sixth had an exit velocity of 119.7 mph and was the first to reach the right field upper deck at Petco Park, which opened in 2004. It was the farthest in his career and the farthest at Petco in the Statcast Era and gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead.
Schwarber raised his right arm as he rounded first base and Harper stood in the dugout with his mouth agape in amazement.
They were the latest impressive home runs for the Phillies, who are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The last won the World Series in 2008. They’ve hit eight homers in seven games this postseason.
Harper joined Gary Matthews (1983) as the only players in franchise history to homer in three straight postseason games in the same year. Harper hit one homer in the wild-card series win at St. Louis and two in going 8 for 16 as the Phillies eliminated the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
Rhys Hoskins had an epic bat spike on a monster homer against the Braves, and J.T. Realmuto became the first catcher in postseason history to hit an inside-the-park home run.
The Phillies at times stunned Petco Park, where a sellout crowd of 44,826 was amped up for the Padres’ first NLCS appearance since 1998. It was 78 degrees at first pitch at 5:04 p.m., a big change from Saturday night’s rainstorm during the Padres’ 5-3 clinching win in the NLDS.
But Wheeler had he Padres totally off balance, allowing only a one-out walk to Juan Soto in the first and then retiring 12 straight batters until Myers singled with one out in the fifth. Wheeler then retired his final eight batters. He struck out eight and walked one on 83 pitches.
Seranthony Dominguez pitched a perfect eighth.
Darvish took the loss, allowing two runs and three hits in seven innings while striking out seven and walking one.
Phillies backup C Garrett Stubbs, who played at San Diego’s Torrey Pines High and then USC, is in his third LCS, trying to get to his second straight World Series. This is his second LCS at Petco Park. He caught the final inning of the Houston Astros’ Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay in the 2020 ALCS in the San Diego bubble. He caught the ninth inning of Game 6 of Houston’s World Series loss to Atlanta last year. Stubbs was traded to the Phillies in the offseason. Stubbs said he left 23 tickets for family and friends.
Remembering Jerry Coleman
The four Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets in the pregame flyover were from the VMFA-323 Death Rattlers, one of the squadrons the late New York Yankees second baseman and Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman flew with in World War II and Korea. Coleman also managed the Padres in 1980.
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA regular season; 2-0, 0.00 postseason) and Padres LHP Blake Snell (8-10, 3.38 ERA regular season; 1-0, 3.12 postseason) are scheduled to start Game 2 Wednesday afternoon. Nola’s brother Austin is the Padres’ catcher. Austin Nola’s RBI single off his younger brother carried the Padres to a 1-0 win against the Phillies at Petco Park on June 24.
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