Bryce Harper's dramatic game-winning home run sends Phillies to World Series


Red October will continue into November thanks to Bryce Harper and the biggest hit of his career.

This wonderful surprise party that the Phillies have thrown for their city and their fans will have one more chapter.

Shout it from the rooftops -- and be sure to use your outside voices: The Phillies are going to the World Series. The team that struggled so badly early in the season that it began the month of June by firing its manager, the team that barely made the postseason as the sixth and final seed in its league, with 24 fewer wins than the top seed, has won the National League Championship.




It has all happened over the last 2½ weeks. The Phillies eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals in two quick games, ending the careers of two great future Hall of Famers in Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. Then the Phils moved on to Atlanta and ended the favored Braves' dream of winning a second straight World Series.

It all culminated Sunday afternoon. Championship Sunday. Under a blue, gray sky, with a chilly autumn wind kicking up, the Phillies finalized their trip to their eighth World Series in franchise history with a heart-stopping 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Harper made the dreams of a city come true when he clubbed a two-run homer with no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to rescue the Phillies from a one-run deficit.

The home run, Harper's sixth of this postseason, left the crowd of 45,485 dancing in the aisles.

Just moments earlier, with rain falling, the crowd had fallen into a hush when the Phillies lost a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning and fell behind 3-2 under the weight of three wild pitches by Seranthony Dominguez.

Jose Alvarado pitched a scoreless eighth to keep the Phillies alive. J.T. Realmuto opened the bottom of the inning with a single against San Diego reliever Robert Suarez. Realmuto pumped his fist to the dugout as he ran to first base. Harper then came up, got a 2-2 fastball from Suarez -- 99 mph! -- and lined it into the left-field seats to bring the house down.

With one swing, Harper may have earned every one of those $330 million. 

He also earned his first trip to the World Series.

Things got tense in the top of the ninth. David Robertson walked two batters with one out. Lefty Ranger Suarez came on and got the final two outs. He got Austin Nola on a flyball to right field to end the game. Had the Phillies lost the game, Nola's brother, Aaron, would have started Game 6 for the Phillies in San Diego on Monday night.

There will be no return trip to San Diego.

As the final out was recorded, the stadium exploded in excitement and manager Rob Thomson, who took over as the interim skipper when the team was seven games under .500 in June, hugged his staff.

Philly Rob is going to the World Series.

The Phillies will open play in their eighth World Series and first since 2009 on Friday night in either Houston or the Bronx. Zack Wheeler, who gave up just two runs in six innings Sunday, will be rested and ready to go.

Game 3 will be played on Halloween night in Philadelphia. Game 4, also in Philadelphia, will be played the next day, November 1. Red October will continue into November.

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