Phillies overcome Kimbrel’s failed first save, Harper shines at 1B

Phillies overcome Kimbrel’s failed first save, Harper shines at 1B Originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Craig Kimbrel finally made his first save of the season, but the Phillies offense and teammate Yunior Marte caught him an end later in an 8-5 victory.

Kimbrel, who had converted all 16 save attempts, gave up a solo home run to David Fry in the bottom of the ninth to force the extras and the Phils responded quickly.

After Trea Turner walked to put the runners first and second in the 10th inning, Bryce Harper gave the go-ahead with an RBI single in the middle. It was Harper’s second start at first base and he handled every play that can happen to a first baseman.

JT Realmuto added a base-loaded sacrificial fly to increase the lead to two and Alec Bohm delivered a two-point clutch single to make it a four-point pad, which was crucial as the Guardians loaded the bases with no one down the 10th.

Jeff Hoffman was unable to register an out, but Marte put out the fire by retiring Cleveland’s two best hitters – Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor – before inducing a game-ending groundout.

The Phillies avoided a sweep by pulling out the series finale. They return home to host the Orioles in a three-game set after a weekend that was also unproductive for the teams surrounding them in the wild-card race.

The Marlins snapped an eight-game losing streak after losing a ninth-inning lead. The Giants lost their fifth straight game and were swept by the Nationals. The Diamondbacks lost their fourth game in a row and were swept away by the Reds.

The Phils don’t end the weekend in a playoff position, but are as close as they can get after 99 games. They are one game behind the Reds (top wildcard) and half a game behind the D-backs and the Giants, who are tied for the last two spots.

The Reds are 55-46, the D-backs and Giants are 54-46. The Phillies are 53-46 and the Marlins are 54-47.

Harper looks more than comfortable in her new position. He made two diving saves to his left, one to end an inning with a runner on base. He jumped up to hook a line drive to his right and double up a runner at first base. He lined up a ball far behind first base and ran to the sack to beat Josh Bell. He teamed up with Bryson Stott on a bang-bang play to strike out quick lead Steven Kwan on a bunt to start the eighth inning. This after jumping well into the camera to catch a ball in foul territory on his first base debut on Friday.

Harper looks like he’s been playing first base for 10 years, not three months. Whether or not the defense remains as impressive in every game, he has provided the front office with a solid early indication that he can come out and seek a corner fielder before the August 1 trade deadline.

Kyle Schwarber, whose legs will be cooler over the past two months as he moves into DH, pulled out a key single on the ground in the fifth inning, a play that went a long way in bringing the Phillies back from an early deficit. Brandon Marsh opened the frame with a standing triple over the center fielder’s head, and with one out, Schwarber fired a ball to Bell at first base. Big southpaw Sam Hentges was slow to get off the mound and Schwarber beat Bell’s sneaky throw to first base by a step or two. He then scored in the inning after Turner doubled up and Harper retired.

Stott had another impressive game with four walks, one to end a 12-pitch plate appearance. He stole three bases and is 19 on 21 attempts.

Aaron Nola pitched well over seven innings, throwing just 85 pitches and finishing with four goose eggs. The Guardians scored once in the first (Kwan’s first home run), second (Andres Gimenez home run) and third (Ramirez home run), then not again. Nola is 9-6 with a 4.27 ERA. He completed at least six innings 18 times to lead the majors.

The Phillies have fifth starter Cristopher Sanchez on the mound Monday night against Baltimore, which has the second-best record in the majors at 61-36.

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