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Phillies use power display to take 2-1 NLDS lead on Braves

PHILADELPHIA — A historic power display has the Philadelphia Phillies on the brink of a return to the National League Championship Series.

Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos each clubbed two home runs and the Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves 10-2 on Wednesday, bringing Philadelphia one win away from eliminating its division rivals in the NL Division Series for the second straight season.

Trea Turner and Brandon Marsh also homered and Aaron Nola (2-0) struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings as the Phillies captured Game 3 for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 4 is set for Thursday night in Philadelphia.

The Phillies improved to 9-2 at home in the playoffs since 2022. They beat the Braves in the NLDS in four games last year, going 2-0 against them in Philadelphia, en route to a World Series trip.

The first multi-homer playoff game of Harper’s career came after his baserunning mistake at the end of Game 2 contributed to a 5-4 Atlanta win.

“He’s a big-game player, he really is,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “These moments, he steps up. I think he wanted to correct himself for the baserunning error, so that gets him going a little bit.”

Harper joined Castellanos — who had one career postseason homer before Wednesday — to become the fourth set of teammates in major league history to sock two homers apiece in the same playoff game. They joined the 1932 New York Yankees, the 2020 San Diego Padres and the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers.

Harper stared down Atlanta shortstop Orlando Arcia as he rounded the bases on both home runs. Arcia had mocked him during the Braves’ celebration after Game 2 ended, which got back to Harper in the Philadelphia clubhouse.

“They just kind of told me, and they looked at me and they were like, ‘What are you going to do?'” Harper said.

Ozzie Albies and Arcia had RBIs for the Braves, who have been pushed to the brink of elimination despite posting baseball’s best record in the regular season.

An offensive juggernaut all year, the Braves have been held to seven runs and two home runs over three games.

“We didn’t swing the bats that well today,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Nola was really good, again. And we’ve been an offensive team. And in two of the three games in this series, we haven’t been.”

Nola allowed two runs on six hits and a walk. Phillies relievers Matt Strahm, Seranthony Dominguez, Orion Kerkering and Michael Lorenzen combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

In the Atlanta third, Ronald Acuna Jr. doubled down the right field line for his first hit of the postseason. Albies drove him home with a single one pitch later.

Castellanos led off the home third with a line-drive homer to left off Bryce Elder (0-1).

Marsh singled and moved to third on a groundout and Turner’s infield single. Harper turned on a slider and sent it to the upper deck in right for a 4-1 lead.

Elder left the game after Alec Bohm singled and Bryson Stott walked. J.T. Realmuto sent a double to the wall off Michael Tonkin to make it 6-1 at inning’s end.

Elder lasted 2 2/3 innings in his playoff debut, allowing six runs on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

Harper’s second home run, off Brad Hand, flew 414 feet to straightaway center and snuck over the wall for a 7-1 lead in the fifth.

Marcell Ozuna singled in the sixth before Nola exited. Kevin Pillar worked a nine-pitch walk off Strahm, and Arcia drove Ozuna home on the next pitch.

In the bottom of the sixth, Turner took AJ Smith-Shawver deep to left center to make it an 8-2 game. Castellanos and Marsh piled on by going back-to-back off Smith-Shawver in the eighth.

–Adam Zielonka, Field Level Media

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