PHILADELPHIA — Kyle Schwarber led off with his latest scintillating home run, Jean Segura atoned for a run-scoring error with a go-ahead single and the Philadelphia Phillies edged the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.
Game 4 is Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies returned home to another packed house for the first NLCS game in the city since 2010 and are now only two wins away from playing for their first World Series championship since 2008.
The Phillies can take solace they survived the Padres without playing their best baseball. Outside of Schwarber’s homer — Schwarbombs as they’re affectionately known in Philly — the big bats were pretty quiet. Segura and Rhys Hoskins also made costly errors that made the game closer than it ever needed to be.
Yet starter Ranger Suarez survived shoddy fielding to earn the win. He walked none and allowed only two hits and one earned run over 68 pitches in five sharp innings. Zach Eflin and Jose Alvarado each tossed scoreless innings and Seranthony Dominguez earned a six-out save as the Phillies head into a Game 4 expected to be largely a bullpen game.
With one out and a runner on in the ninth, Dominguez struck out Jurickson Profar on a full-count check swing that sent the outfielder into a rage. Profar cursed out the plate umpire, threw his helmet and kicked it as he stormed off the field.
Padres postseason ace Joe Musgrove couldn’t get out of the sixth inning and left the mound to Alec Bohm exhorting the crowd to get louder after his RBI double to right in the sixth past a diving Juan Soto made it 4-2.
Musgrove scuffled from the first batter.
Schwarber worked a full count and then smashed his second solo homer of the series into the right field seats. Schwarber, who led the National League with 46 homers, also hit a jaw-dropping, 488-foot solo drive in Game 1. Alas, this blast only sailed 405 feet.
The Phillies seemed poised to jump on Musgrove in the inning after Hoskins and J.T Realmuto walked.
Musgrove acknowledged this week that he had been “beaten down by the crowds” early in his postseason career. The Phillies fans — another sellout crowd of 45,279 went wild on every pitch — were frothing when Bryce Harper came to hit.
Harper, though, hit into a double play and Musgrove retired Nick Castellanos on a grounder to escape further damage. Musgrove threw 22 pitches without an out, then needed only pitches two pitches to get three outs.
Musgrove pitched out of another jam in the second when Bryson Stott, who hit a one-out double, was stranded on third.
The 29-year-old Musgrove has been the postseason ace for the Padres, the team he grew up rooting for as a California kid. He tossed one-hit ball over seven shutout innings in an NL Wild Card Series win over the Mets and followed up with six solid innings to help beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Suarez, meanwhile, had struggled of late and walked five in 3 1/3 innings in his Game 2 NLDS start at Atlanta. But hey, this is what makes baseball so great — it was Suarez who mowed down the Padres in rapid succession.
The lefty threw only six pitches in the third inning. Suarez, who went 10-7 this season, could have pitched deeper in the game but manager Rob Thomson wants him fresh for another outing if the series goes long.
Suarez should have escaped the fourth unscathed but Segura took his eye off the ball at second base and dropped the toss for an error and a run scored in what should have been a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Suarez left two runners stranded to keep it 1-1.
Segura threw his bat and redeemed himself when he lofted a two-run single to right in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. He was promptly picked off first. He later robbed Ha-Seong Kim of a base hit.
Hoskins muffed Trent Grisham’s routine grounder to lead off the fifth for a two-base error. Grisham scored an unearned run on Kim’s RBI groundout that made it 3-2.
The Phillies bullpen took over from there and won a game in front of former World Series favorites of the past such as Charlie Manuel, Ryan Howard and Matt Stairs. Maybe this year’s team could be next.