Phillies avoid being swept with extra inning beat Guardians

Bryce Harper drove in the go-ahead run with a tenth-inning single and showed stronger defense in his second career start at first base, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to an 8-5 victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

«He’s an athlete and a baseball player,» Phillies manager Rob Thomson said.

Thomson admitted he’s surprised at how comfortable Harper seems in his new position, a transition from the outfield that only began Friday night.

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Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies does an interview during a downpour after winning a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

«You can never know with the speed of the game how it’s going to affect people, but it feels like it’s been there before,» Thomson said.

«I’ve worked a lot,» Harper said after the Phillies snapped a four-game skid. «Anything I can do to help this team win, wherever I’m on the field. I try to play my best. That’s why they brought me here. That’s why I love being here.»

Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel (6-1) blew his first save of the season in 17 chances when David Fry hit a solo shot with two outs in the ninth to tie it 4-4. The home run came on a 1-0 pitch and narrowly cleared the 19-foot wall in left field.

The ball bounced down the field after landing in the stands, causing a brief confusion.

«I thought it was gone and then I looked up and the ball was bouncing to left field,» Fry said. «I thought, I better go. And then he looked at (third base coach Mike Sarbaugh) and pointed, he’s a home run.»

ELLY DE LA CRUZ DE LOS ROJOS ENTERS BARRY BONDS TERRITORY WITH HOME RUN VS DIAMONDBACKS

Kyle Schwarber slides at home

Philadelphia Phillies Kyle Schwarber scores when Cleveland Guardians catcher Cam Gallagher can’t handle a shot by Josh Bell during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

Kyle Schwarber started the 10th as an automatic runner at second base. Trea Turner drew a walk before Harper singled up the middle off Tim Herrin (1-1). JT Realmuto hit a sacrifice fly and Alec Bohm hit a two-run single to make it 8-4.

Cleveland threatened to come back in the bottom half. Steven Kwan’s single off Jeff Hoffman scored a run and a walk to Tyler Freeman loaded the bases with no outs. Yunior Marte replaced Hoffman and bailed out for his second save. José Ramírez flied out, Josh Naylor flied out and Myles Straw grounded out.

Harper delivered two big plays in the fourth and ended a fifth-inning threat with an unassisted double play. He also had a tying groundout in the fifth.

Harper fell into an empty photographer’s pit and took a foul hit on Friday. And no, Thomson didn’t have a conversation with the two-time NL MVP about toning down his playing style.

«It’s hard to tell Bryce Harper to take it easy. He really is,» Thomson said before Sunday’s game. «He’s going to be on fire the whole time. You’re really losing your breath if he comes up.»

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José Ramírez runs to first

Cleveland Rangers Jose Ramirez looks at his RBI fielders pick against Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola with Phillies catcher JT Realmuto during the third inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

During the fourth inning, Harper plummeted to a halt in the outfield turf on a sharp groundout from Josh Bell and hit it all the way to the bag. She made another diving play in front of the bag to nail Will Brennan’s groundout and touched base to end the inning.

Harper turned an unassisted double play to end the fifth, catching a liner hit from Freeman and tagging Kwan, who was too far off base. Harper is playing first base to get back on the field while his arm makes a full recovery from elbow surgery.

Xzavion Curry committed a bases-loaded balk in the first, but Cleveland built a 3-1 lead.

Aaron Nola allowed three runs in seven innings. He allowed solo home runs to Kwan in the first and Andrés Giménez in the second. Nola appeared to injure his right leg later in the inning, but remained in the game after a visit from Thomson and a Phillies athletic trainer.

Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott drew four walks and stole three bases.

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Aaron Nola throws pitch

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws against the Cleveland Guardians during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

FINGER PROBLEM

Guardians pitching coach Carl Willis said right-hander Gavin Williams developed a blister on his middle finger during Friday’s start. The rookie is scheduled to start Wednesday against Kansas City.

«He did a really smart thing to make us aware of it after the fourth inning before it really turned into a full-blown blister,» Willis said. «So at this point, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that he’s okay and we get him soon enough that it’s not a big deal.»

Guardians starters Shane Bieber, Cal Quantrill and Triston McKenzie are on the disabled list.

COACHES ROOM

Phillies: RHP Noah Song (lower back strain) is scheduled to make another minor league rehab appearance this week. He pitched two innings of relief for Triple-A Lehigh Valley against Toledo on Saturday. Song, a Rule 5 draft pick, must be activated or offered back to the Red Sox by July 28.

Keepers: Bieber (elbow swelling) will be re-evaluated by doctors and his next step will be determined later this week.

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Alec Bohm with Jake Cave

Philadelphia Phillies’ Alec Bohm (28) congratulates Jake Cave, right, after winning a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Phillies: LHP Cristopher Sanchez (0-3, 3.06 ERA) will start at home against Baltimore on Monday night.

Guardians: LHP Logan Allen (4-2, 3.21) pitches the opener of a series against Kansas City at Progressive Field.