Phillies storm back for 6 runs in the 9th to stun Cardinals


ST. LOUIS -- Eleven years to the day after suffering one of the most painful losses in franchise history at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phillies turned the tables and stole one from the Cards in Game 1 of the National League wild-card series on Friday afternoon.

Down by two runs with one out in the ninth inning, the Phillies rallied for six runs and escaped sold-out Busch Stadium with a 6-3 win.

The Cardinals had this one in the bag until Ryan Helsley, their All-Star closer, suffered an ugly meltdown in the top of the ninth inning.

He struck out Rhys Hoskins to open the inning then allowed a single to J.T. Realmuto. After Realmuto's hit, Helsley completely lost the strike zone. He walked Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos to load the bases then hit Alec Bohm with a 100.8 mph fastball to send home the Phillies' first run.

After hitting Bohm, Helsley departed with an apparent injury and Andre Pallante came on to face Jean Segura with the bases loaded. Segura, playing in his first postseason game after 10 seasons in the majors, delivered the tying and go-ahead runs with a ground ball single to right through the Cardinals' infield, which was playing halfway.

Before the shocking inning was over, the Phils scored three more runs -- one on an excellent baserunning play by Edmundo Sosa, who pinch-ran for Bohm, one on a single by Brandon Marsh and one on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Schwarber. 

The game was scoreless until the seventh when Jose Alvarado, pitching in relief of Zack Wheeler, issued a two-out walk before giving up a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Juan Yepez.

David Robertson kept the game close with a scoreless eighth inning and Zach Eflin survived a rocky ninth and closed it out after giving up a two-out run.

The win came 11 years after the Phillies' hearts were broken by the Cardinals in a 1-0 loss in the fifth and deciding game of the 2011 NL Division Series at Citizens Bank Park. That Phillies team won a club-record 102 games. Until Friday, the team had not played a postseason game since.

Wheeler pitched 6⅓ shutout innings in the first postseason start of his career. He gave up just two hits.

St. Louis lefty Jose Quintana matched zeroes with Wheeler over 5⅓ scoreless innings.

Wheeler was at his best pitching out of trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Tommy Edman then walked leadoff man Lars Nootbaar in front of dangerous Albert Pujols.

In a huge moment of the game, Wheeler was able to get the slow-footed Pujols to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. He then ended the inning by getting MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt to ground out.

Wheeler stuck around and retired Nolan Arenado to open the bottom of the seventh before departing at 96 pitches. Alvarado came on, got a quick out, then walked a batter before the pinch-hitter Yepez came up and put the Cardinals ahead with one swing.

Alvarado had been one of the stars of the Phillies' bullpen over the last four months. After spending a couple of weeks in the minors, he came back on June 12 and proceeded to pitch to a 1.66 ERA in 42 games. Before Yepez' game-turning homer, he had not allowed a run since August 12 and a homer since July 30.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be played Saturday night. Aaron Nola will face Miles Mikolas.

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