It took a couple of false starts, but the Philadelphia Phillies managed to salvage a win in the desert. With a big 6-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday over the Arizona Diamondbacks, they leave Chase Field with a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship Series.
In a rematch from Game 1 of this NLCS, it was ace against ace, with Zack Wheeler taking on the Diamondbacks' Zac Gallen. And much like the first game of the series, the Phillies didn't look intimidated by Gallen early on.
It didn't start how the Phillies would have drawn it up, but they got to Gallen in the first inning when the heavy-slugging Kyle Schwarber poked a five-foot, 30 mph squibber off the end of the bat down the third base line. Not exactly the prolific power we're used to seeing from the one-man wrecking crew, but it got things rolling for the desperate Phillies.
Harper followed with a 108.2 mph screamer back up the middle that almost took Gallen's head off. Stott came up big with two outs, ripping an RBI single to right to make it 1-0.
The Phillies managed to add one more in the frame on a wild sequence. Stott took off from first, and Harper came home on the throw to second, running through Gabriel Moreno after the return throw took the catcher into the base path. It was a potentially scary incident, but Moreno was somehow okay, and the visitors went up 2-0.
In the bottom half of the frame, Wheeler worked around walk and a single but escaped unscathed.
From there, the aces settled in. After the first seven Phillies batters went 3-for-6 with a walk, Gallen settled down, retiring 11 straight ... until the sixth. With the Phillies beginning their third time through the order, NLCS Schwarber showed up. The Phillies' lead-off man crushed a mammoth 461-foot moonshot to right, the longest in this year's postseason, setting a new NLCS home run record with 11.
Two batters later, Harper tried to match his teammate with a monster 444-foot home run of his own to make it 4-0. With the sixth innings blasts, Schwarber and Harper tied Jayson Werth for the most home runs in Phillies postseason history with 11 dingers.
Gallen ended the night with only one strikeout through six innings, giving up four runs on six hits. Certainly not the outing the Diamondbacks were hoping for or expecting from their ace.
As for the Phillies' ace, Wheeler was nearly untouchable again. Backed by some solid defense, including a couple of magnificent web gems by second baseman Bryson Stott, Wheeler saved the bullpen and the series for the Phillies. He dominated the Diamondbacks through seven innings, scattering six hits and striking out eight. The only blemish came on an Alek Thomas solo home run in the seventh.
Harper was quick to praise Wheeler after the game.
"I've played with a lot of good ones [pitchers], and he's easily top three," Harper said. "It's incredible what he does. It's so much fun to watch, I love playing behind him, and it's incredible, he's legit, man."
Not leaving anything to chance, J.T. Realmuto added a two-run homer in the eighth to make it 6-1. From there, the bullpen got the job done, with Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Domínguez and Matt Strahm combining to keep Arizona from mounting another late-inning comeback.
Undoubtedly, the Phillies are happy to see the last of Chase Field for this season. Now they head home for Game 6 on Monday with a chance to clinch the NL pennant for the second straight year.