The Philadelphia Phillies smashed five home runs to batter the Houston Astros 7-0 and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven World Series on Tuesday.
After rain forced the postponement of game three on Monday, the Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park with a vengeance to dominate the Astros.
Bryce Harper set the tone for a wild start by crushing a 402-foot two-run homer off Astros starter Lance McCullers in the bottom of the first.
The onslaught continued in the second inning with Alec Bohm bludgeoning a 373-foot home run into left field before Brandon Marsh smacked the third homer of the night to make it 4-0 after two innings.
While McCullers was being terrorized by the Astros bats, there were no such problems for Phillies starter Ranger Suarez.
The Venezuelan lefty delivered five scoreless innings with four strikeouts to protect Philadelphia’s lead.
“Ranger really, really pitched well. I mean, the poise is through the roof,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Nothing really bothers him. He just executed all night long.”
Harper revealed after the victory that the Phillies bats had been determined to dominate McCullers from the outset.
“We had a great approach,” Harper said. “We talked about it before the game, just trying to get on him early and often.
“He’s a really good postseason pitcher and that’s a really good team over there.
“We’ve got to keep it going for the next two days and hopefully end it here at home.”
In the fifth, the Phillies tagged on two more runs, with Kyle Schwarber belting a 443-foot monster into center-field off McCullers to score Marsh for a 6-0 lead.
McCullers’ miserable night was not over, however, with Rhys Hoskins the next to plunder a home run off the Astros starter on the next bat, blasting an 85mph slider into left field to make it 7-0.
Ryne Stanek was brought on to stop the bleeding and end the inning, but the damage had been done.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said seeing McCullers pounded for five home runs had been “mind-boggling” — but doubted the Astros starter had been tipping pitches.
“It was kind of mind-boggling, because he doesn’t give up homers,” Baker said. “He usually keeps the ball in the ballpark.
“So what can I say? The line score looks bad but they were just hitting us.
“We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and figure was it them tonight, or was it Lance tonight not having his stuff? We’ll go back and figure it out.”
Phillies reliever Andrew Bellatti wrapped up victory in the ninth inning, claiming the outs of Yuli Gurriel, Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick.
The win leaves the Phillies just two wins from clinching the Major League Baseball crown, with games four and five in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday.
Harper said the raucous home support had also been a factor in the Phillies’ emphatic win.
“They keep us going, keep us fired up,” he said. “We were able to come out on the field today and they were already all here, fired up and ready to go.
“They believe in us and we believe in them.”
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