Harper, Schwarber, Castellanos power Phillies past Diamondbacks 5-3 in Game 1 of NLCS

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper hits a RBI-single against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning in Game 1 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper smashed the first pitch he saw on his 31st birthday into the seats, Kyle Schwarber hit his first homer of the postseason and Nick Castellanos also went deep again to power the Philadelphia Phillies past the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Monday night.

Harper held up three fingers on his left hand and one on his right and pretended to blow them out like candles on a cake as he crossed the plate. Harper, who also walked, scored twice and knocked in two runs, hit his 10th homer in two postseasons with the Phillies.

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“I’ve always wanted to play on my birthday,” he said before the game.

Zack Wheeler struck out eight in six innings to help the defending National League champions win their seventh Game 1 of the last two postseasons. Wheeler sawed two bats in half during the first two innings, leaving the Diamondbacks with more pieces of busted lumber than hits through five.

José Alvarado got four big outs on 15 pitches and Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth for the save.

Arizona was stuck with its first loss of the postseason after ripping off five straight wins against the Brewers and Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks were simply the latest team to unravel under the red storm of 45,396 towel-waving, deliriously-cheering fans at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies never gave fans a reason to stop — or a chance for Arizona to catch its breath until it was too late.

Schwarber started the home run derby when he launched Zac Gallen’s first pitch 420 feet into the right-field seats. There was some minor consternation that Schwarber — with 47 homers this season and 93 over the last two — had yet to go deep through six playoff games.

How easy it was to forget that Schwarber didn’t hit any in the Wild Card Series or NLDS last season before he launched six in the NLCS and World Series. So those Schwarbombs might just be getting started.

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