Bryce Harper's stunning homer sends Phillies to first World Series since 2009, NLCS win over Padres

PHILADELPHIA — It was magical.

A storybook ending.

Bryce Harper, in one of the most electrifying moments in Philadelphia Phillies history, hit a dramatic game-winning, eighth-inning homer, sending the Phillies to the World Series with a 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres to win the National League Championship Series.

It’s a good thing Philadelphia public safety officials greased the light poles, police erected the street barricades during the game, because this party is going to be lasting for a week. 

The Phillies were down to their final six outs when J.T. Realmuto led off the eighth inning with a single to left field off reliever Robert Suarez. Padres manager Bob Melvin had the option of keeping Suarez in the game, or bringing in left-hander Josh Hader to face Harper. 

He stuck with Suarez. And, oh, did Harper make him pay the price. 

Harper, with one of the greatest postseasons in history with 11 extra-base hits, fouled off four pitches against Suarez, waiting for his pitch. 

“All I knew was that he was going to come with a heater,’’ Harper said on TV immediately afterwards, “and I and tried to take advantage. 

“Man, I did just that.’’ 

Did he ever. 

The Phillies, for the first time since 2009, are going back to the World Series. 

Harper was named Most Valuable Player of the NLCS, hitting .400 (8-for-20) with two homers and five RBI in the five-game series.

"Guy is locked in. This is who he is," Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber said after the win. "He's the best in the world for a reason."

Said shortstop Bryson Stott, Harper's closest friend on the team: “He lives for this. Any time you have a superstar that has missed out on the postseason a few year in a row, they just want to get back and want to be on that big stage.’’ 

Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto celebrate after winning Game 5.

Now, for the first time in history, Major League Baseball will have a No. 6 seed playing in the World Series. 

The Phillies, the last team to make the postseason, are now the last National League team standing.

“I have an appreciation for baseball history,’’ said first baseman Rhys Hoskins, “but more so an appreciation for Phillies history. Being in the postseason, there's a lot of talk about how it's gone in the past here, which is awesome. It's great experience. It's great stories to hear and draw back on.’’ 

This is their time to add the latest chapter. 

“It feels like we're living it,’’ Hoskins said. “The red towels, it's deafening loud, right? Like, yeah, just the whole scene. And as soon as you step on the field, really in batting practice, you can just kind of feel the electricity building.’’ 

Hoskins provided the Phillies their only offense until Harper’s heroics, getting the green light on a 3-and-0 pitch in the second inning, and hitting it 424 feet into the left-field seats for a two-run homer. It was one of just four hits Padres ace Yu Darvish surrendered, but the damage was done. 

The Phillies, who clinged to a 2-1 lead, watched it disappear in the seventh inning when reliever Seranthony Dominguez self-destructed. He threw three wild pitches, with the Padres scoring the go-ahead run on two wild pitches with struggling No. 8 hitter Trent Grisham at the plate, taking a 3-2 lead. 

It all disappeared with one swing of Harper’s bat.