PHILADELPHIA CREAM — Kyle Schwarber started with his last scintillating homer, Jean Segura atoned for a scoring error with a single and the Philadelphia Phillies edged the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Series of NL championship.
Game 4 is on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies returned home to another sold-out crowd for the first NLCS game in the city since 2010 and are just two wins away from playing for their first World Series championship since 2008.
The Phillies can take comfort in outlasting the Padres without playing their best baseball. Outside of the Schwarber circuit — Schwarbombs as they’re affectionately known in Philadelphia — the big bats were pretty quiet. Segura and Rhys Hoskins also made costly mistakes that brought the game closer than it ever should have been.
“I made a lot of mistakes, but that’s part of baseball,” Segura said, in his first postseason after 11 years at the majors. “You keep moving forward. I made it.”
“It happens,” he said.
Phillies starter Ranger Suarez survived poor ground to pick up the win. He walked none and allowed just two hits and one earned run on 68 pitches in five tall innings. Zach Eflin and Jose Alvarado each threw scoreless innings and Seranthony Dominguez earned a six-out save as the Phillies head into a Game 4 that should largely be a bullpen game.
After Josh Bell started the ninth with a single, Jurickson Profar hit on a full control swing that angered the outfielder. Profar, who had already shoved his bat away and headed for first, cursed third base umpire Todd Tichenor for calling him.
Profar threw his helmet and kicked it as he stormed off the field and was ejected by plate umpire Ted Barrett.
“Initially it looked like it might have gone away,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “Go back and watch it, maybe the bat didn’t come out. It’s a close, tough call. But maybe not.”
“It’s a great moment, obviously,” he said.
In MLB’s best postseason series that were tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 won 67 of 97 times, or 69%.
Padres playoff ace Joe Musgrove couldn’t make it out of the sixth inning and left the mound to Alec Bohm urging the crowd to get louder after his RBI double right in the sixth after a Juan Soto dive who made it 4-2.
Musgrove fought from the first batter.
Schwarber worked a full count, then crashed his second solo homer of the series in the right seats of the field. Schwarber, who led the National League with 46 homers, also had a jaw-dropping 488-foot solo drive in Game 1. Alas, this explosion only traveled 405 feet.
The Phillies looked set to pounce on Musgrove in the inning after Hoskins and JT Realmuto walked.
Musgrove admitted this week that he was “beaten by the crowd” early in his playoff career. Phillies fans – another sold-out crowd of 45,279 went wild on every pitch – were foaming when Bryce Harper came knocking.
Harper, however, hit in a double play and Musgrove retired Nick Castellanos to a floor to escape further damage. Musgrove threw 22 no-out pitches and then needed just two pitches to get three out.
Musgrove threw another jam in the second when Bryson Stott, who scored a one-out double, was blocked in third.
Musgrove, 29, was the playoff ace for the Padres, the team he grew up on as a California kid. He threw one hit over seven innings in an NL Wild Card Series win over the Mets and followed that up with six solid innings to help beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Suarez, meanwhile, had struggled lately and walked five times in 3 1/3 innings when he left Game 2 NLDS in Atlanta. But hey, that’s what makes baseball so great – it was Suarez who took down the Padres in quick succession.
The southpaw only threw six pitches in the third inning. Suarez, who went 10-7 this season, could have thrown deeper in the game, but manager Rob Thomson wants him fresh for another outing if the streak lasts long.
Suarez should have escaped the fourth unscathed, but Segura looked away from the ball at second base and dropped the throw for an error and a run scored in what should have been a 6-4-3 endgame double play . Suarez left two runners blocked to keep it 1-1.
Segura swung his bat and redeemed himself when he threw a two-run single to the right in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. He was quickly eliminated first. Later, he deprived Ha-Seong Kim of a hit.
Hoskins missed Trent Grisham’s routine ground throw to lead the fifth for a two-base error. Grisham scored an unearned run on Kim’s RBI ground that made it 3-2.
The Phillies bullpen took over from there and won a game over former World Series favorites from the past such as Charlie Manuel, Ryan Howard and Matt Stairs. Maybe this year’s team could be next.
CENTER OF INTEREST
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce ran down the field wearing a Phillies jersey and chest hit the Phanatic. Kelce waved a rally towel and drank an entire can of beer as Phillies fans roared. Kelce watched part of the match with Manuel and “Top Gun: Maverick” actor Miles Teller.
Schwarber is only the second Phillie in playoff history to hit a first home run. Jimmy Rollins is the other, doing it three times.
RHP Mike Clevinger, hit hard by the Dodgers in an NLDS start in his only playoff action this year, will leave for San Diego. LHP Bailey Falter (6-4, 3.86 ERA) starts Game 4 for the Phils in his first playoff appearance.
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