Philadelphia- Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit back-to-back home runs and Merrill Kelly struck out eight to help the Arizona Diamondbacks force Game 7 of the National League Championship Series with a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.
The winner of Tuesday night’s game advances to the World Series against Houston or Texas, which began Game 7 of the American League Championship later Monday.
“I’m looking forward to some fun. It’s going to be fun”Kelly said. “Obviously, they talk about Game 7, those are the best words in sports. I think the fact that we’re here, I don’t think anyone thought we were going to get them to game six. I don’t think anyone thought we were going to get to game one. “I don’t think. To be honest, anyone thought we were going to surpass Milwaukee.”
The Diamondbacks came ready in Game 6 to back up manager Torey Lovullo’s bold pregame words and tame the Phillies’ bats.
“Getting there is really important, so we have that mentality of going all out,” Lovullo said before game six. “We didn’t come cross country to get our butts kicked. “We came here to play our best game of baseball and our guys will be ready to play.”
The Diamondbacks arrived ready to go, and Kelly didn’t want to leave the mound.
Kelly retired Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper in order in the fifth and the Diamondbacks took a 4-1 lead. When Kelly retreated to the dugout, Lovullo told the right-hander that he was done. Kelly, who had thrown 90 pitches, seemed agitated as he gestured with his glove as if to signal that he struck out Schwarber and Harper in the inning and that he had a lot more in the tank.
“By beating Schwarber, Harper and Turner right there in that fifth, I thought I would probably go out for sixth.”Kelly commented. “That took me a little by surprise. But that’s Torey’s job. My job is to pitch. His job is to make decisions and, at the end of the day, I have to live with those decisions.”
Four relievers combined to shut down the Phillies and stifle their big run of success at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia was forced into the first game seven in franchise history.
The Phillies were held to six hits and lost at home for the first time in seven home postseason games. They lost games four and five to Houston in last season’s World Series, but had won 11 straight home postseason games against National League opponents.
The Phllies sent Aaron Nola to the mound, a year after beating San Diego to win the National League pennant, hoping to make two consecutive trips to the World Series.
Nola was brilliant in each postseason start, pitching against the backdrop that the pending free agent could be in his final games with the Phillies. He went 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in October.
The Diamondbacks, who lost the first two games of the National League Championship Series, never had to worry about the kind of late reactions that propelled them back into the series.
Nola allowed home runs to Pham and Gurriel in nearly the same spots in the left field seats, the first the Phillies’ oldest player allowed all postseason.