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Spike This! Hoskins, Harper homer, Phils beat Braves in NLDS

PHILADELPHIA — Rhys Hoskins snapped out of a postseason slump with a three-run homer and a game-winning at-bat, and Bryce Harper hit a two-run shot that sparked the Philadelphia Phillies to a 9-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the third NL Division Series game on Friday night.

Harper added an RBI double as Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five against the defending World Series champions. The Phillies can advance to the NL Championship Series by winning Game 4 at home on Saturday.

The Phillies and a sellout crowd of 45,538 waited 11 mostly miserable years — 4,025 days to be exact — to host a playoff game again at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies fans should save the towels for the rally – the Phillies played like a team looking to keep Red October alive

The Bats erupted for a six-run third inning that will forever be etched in Philly sports lore. Bryson Stott started the rally with an RBI double off Braves rookie Spencer Strider. Kyle Schwarber drew an intentional walk to set the stage for Hoskins.

Hoskins, mired in a 1-for-19 postseason slump, crushed a 94 mph fastball into the left-field bullpen for a 4-0 lead. Hoskins raised his arms in celebration, slammed his bat into the grass and skipped his way to first base.

Output speed? It took Harper about 2 seconds to bounce out of the dugout and throw his helmet in the air. Hoskins jumped into a violent exchange of elbows, forearms — think Bash Brothers — with Stott as he crossed the plate.

“I don’t know if my feet touched the ground,” Hoskins said.

Strider, batting for the first time in nearly a month because of a strained left oblique, gave up another single before being lifted for Dylan Lee.

Playing his first home playoff game with the Phillies, Harper hammered the ball into the twilight for his second postseason homer to take a 6-0 lead. Phillies fans holding hand-cut letters that read “Harper” bounced with delight in the shaking stands. Harper, who has embraced Philly and the Phanatic and fans since signing a 13-year, $330 million contract in 2019, pointed to a fan holding a “Hit That Jawn” sign behind the dugout.

Jawn is a Philly noun used to describe anything.

Harper’s shot made Philly feel it all.

“I was just fired up, ready to go,” the two-time NL MVP said.

Aaron Nola, who pitched a career best in baseball, was ace again in October in shutting down a Braves team that had won 101 games and won the NL East. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out six in six-plus innings.

Nola, the longest-tenured Phillie, was on it from the jump. He needed just 10 pitches in the second innings to strike the side. The Braves only touched him with an unearned run in the sixth. He left the game in the seventh to a standing ovation.

The Phillies played their first postseason home game since losing 1-0 in the 2011 NLDS to Chris Carpenter and the eventual champion St. Louis. Louis Cardinals. They’ve waited 11 years – and a whopping 14 consecutive games since September – to return. The Phillies finished the season on a 10-game road trip, then played the first four games of the playoffs on the road.

Phillies fans – and Phanatics from atop the dugout – mocked Atlanta’s tomahawk chop, and red rally towels spun like helicopter rotor blades from the moment they were removed from the seats. As Strider came off the mound in the third, one Phillies fan gleefully waved his middle finger at the pitcher the entire walk to the dugout.

Strider could only shake his head as the shortest start of his short career ended in just 2 1/3 innings.

The Phillies had never scored five runs in a postseason inning before 2022. They’ve done it twice so far, the first time, of course, a six-run rally in the ninth inning to beat the Cardinals in the first game of the NL wild-card series.

Harper hit an RBI double to center in the seventh and Game 1 star Nick Castellanos drove in two runs in the inning for a 9-1 lead.

PHELAN HONORED

The Phillies held a moment of silence for Corey Phelan, the 20-year-old minor league pitcher who died Wednesday of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He last played in the juniors in 2021.

“We got to know him. We got to get to know him, get to know the family. Great family,” manager Rob Thomson said. “And you just see the strength that he had, the confidence that he had to go through this. It was hard to take because we got to know Corey a little bit and he really liked us and he liked his character and he liked everything about him. So he difficult.”

CAPTIVE CRITTER

First, the goose was on the loose in LA. In Game 3, a squirrel was briefly trapped near the Braves dugout before it was released and it, well, scampered off.

NEXT

The Braves sent RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.34 ERA) into the game for Game 4. The Phillies have yet to name a starter.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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