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Castellanos, Schwarber's big bats help lead Phils past Pirates for series leading victory

Kyle Schwarber's lead-off homer and Nick Castellanos' walkoff single help lead the Fightin' Phils past the Pirates.

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It was Nick Castellanos who played the starring role in the dramatic final scene, who was mobbed by his teammates and cheered by a Citizens Bank Park crowd of 40,519 as dusk fell Saturday night.

And that was as it should be.

Castellanos, who came into the game batting .160. Who had been carpeted by boos after striking out his previous time at the plate. Who stepped up with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth and delivered the base hit over the head of drawn-in centerfielder Jack Suwinski to give the Phillies a come-from-behind, 4-3 walkoff win over the Pirates.

But it was Kyle Schwarber whose fingerprints were all over this victory, literally from the start to just before the finish line.

It was Schwarber who opened the bottom of the first with a home run, his 33rd leading off a game since joining the Phillies in 2022. The much-maligned leadoff hitter who reached base five times, all against lefthanded pitching. Whose aggressive baserunning helped manufacture the tying run in the seventh. And whose leadoff single in the ninth triggered the winning rally.

The only thing he didn’t do was score the decisive run since Whit Merrifield had come in to run for him. That’s on manager Rob Thomson for not recognizing a good story line when it’s standing right in front of him on first base.

 Most of Schwarber’s contributions as the Phillies reached a game over .500 for the second time this year – the homer, the singles, the walks – are self-explanatory. The one that shouldn’t be overlooked was what he did on the basepaths.

Schwarber was on second with nobody out in the seventh after walking and advancing on a wild pitch by Pittsburgh reliever Aroldis Chapman. On a 3-2 pitch to Trea Turner, Schwarber took off for third. It seemed like a curious decision, but it worked out when Turner hit a grounder to third.

He’d got such a good jump that Ke’Bryan Hayes had no choice but to throw Turner out at first. That forced Pirates manager Derek Shelton to pull the infield up with Bryce Harper up. After Harper walked, the Bucs shifted their alignment to double play depth, which wasn’t quite deep enough to cut off Alec Bohm’s ground single to left which scored Schwarber.

Sure, Schwarber could have been thrown out. Worse-case scenario Turner strikes out and Schwarber runs into a double play. On the other hand, if he hadn’t run Hayes most likely would have looked him back to second which would have changed the entire complexion of the inning.

“He can steal a base if they give it to him,” Thomson said. “He’s smart. He’s been around awhile and he’s a veteran guy who has some savvy. He can do a lot of little things like that to help you.”

The manager said he had a green light. “Because (Chapman) can be a little slow to the plate,” he added.

Schwarber also appears to be fully recovered from knee issues that dogged him all last season.

“It was just trying to get to third base,” he explained. “It’s a one-run game. You have a pitcher who has some strikeout stuff, but he’s not the quickest to home plate. Not that’s what was on my mind, just trying to find a way to get to third base so a sac fly or something else gets it done.”

All of which set the stage for Castellanos, who had contributed an RBI single in the first after Turner followed Schwarber’s homer with a double against Pirates starter Marco Gonzalez.

Castellanos said he felt great as soon as he made contact in the ninth. “Because I knew it was good enough for a sac fly,” he said. “Honestly, that was my first at bat all year where I didn’t have an approach. I wasn’t looking for a pitch. Nothing. I was just ready to hit.”


“Because I wanted to end the game, bro. It’s a lot of fun when all your friends are running at you. It’s a good time.”

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