Harper's first Phillie walk-off hit caps wild 9th

Kapler: 'We get knocked down, we get back up' after season-worst loss

July 17th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- celebrated his big moment between second and third base late Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. He jumped in the air, pumped his fists and waited for his teammates to join him.

The Phillies needed this one.

Harper capped a wild, desperately needed 9-8 victory over the Dodgers by ripping a line-drive double to center field that scored two runs for his first walk-off hit as a Phillie and ninth of his big league career.

Harper running around the outfield screaming and yelling was the final image of one of the crazier ninth innings in recent memory, as the Phillies blew a one-run lead in the top half only to score three runs against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the bottom to win it.

“We never think we’re down,” Harper said. “Sometimes you’re going to lose. Sometimes you’re going to lose badly like yesterday. And sometimes you’re going to win games like tonight. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Phillies lost to the Dodgers on Monday, 16-2. It might have been their worst loss of the season, considering their struggles since late May and the importance of a series against the best team in the Majors. , and Harper each homered early to hand Philadelphia a 6-1 lead. But the Dodgers answered with homers from Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock and Joc Pederson to cut the Phils’ lead to 6-5 in the fifth.

It remained that way until the ninth.

Phillies closer threw his final warmup pitch before the top of the ninth, when it started to rain, forcing the grounds crew to pull the tarp onto the field. Play resumed 22 minutes later, but in a blink of an eye, Neris had put two runners on base, setting up pinch-hitter Matt Beaty’s three-run homer to right-center field to hand Los Angeles an 8-6 lead.

Three pitches later, Neris drilled pinch-hitter David Freese in his back with a 95.1 mph fastball, upsetting players in the Dodgers’ dugout. Home-plate umpire Chris Conroy ejected Neris. Moments later, he ejected Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. Both Neris and Kapler said the pitch wasn’t intentional.

Phillies center fielder Adam Haseley grounded out on a ball that hit off Jansen’s right ankle to start the bottom of the ninth. Jansen remained in the game, but he said afterward that was a mistake because the ankle felt numb and he could not push off the rubber.

“I’m not an excuse guy, but I shouldn’t have kept pitching,” Jansen said. “That’s the one thing I learn from. I should have come out of the game.”

The Phillies took advantage. Pinch-hitter doubled down the right-field line and singled to put runners at the corners after a mound visit. Kingery then hit a pop fly to shallow center field. Muncy, Pollock and left fielder Alex Verdugo converged.

“No idea what was going to happen,” Kingery said. “I thought Muncy had it.”

Knapp waited.

“I knew I wasn’t going to tag up on it, so I figured I’d get off the bag a little bit,” Knapp said.

The ball dropped in front of Pollock.

“Once I saw the ball hit, I just went,” Knapp said. “If he makes an incredible play and he throws me out at home, we still have first and second. I figured take that chance.”

Knapp scored to make it 8-7. Harper followed, smashing a first-pitch cutter at 110.4 mph toward Pollock. He misplayed the ball. It skipped past him and rolled to the wall. The speedy Hernandez and Kingery scored easily to win the game.

“When Knappy got the hit, I said, 'It can happen to [Hernandez], too,'” Neris said. “Then he did and I said, 'Yeah, we’ve got a chance.' Then I saw Harper hitting. I was so excited that I jumped out of my chair.”

"It was a huge moment for Bryce, and you could see it coming off the field after everybody was celebrating on the field, how important that was to him,” Kapler said. “It meant a lot to him. He was clearly emotional, and I understand there had been a lot of buildup that led to that moment. It was quite a release for him."

It was for everybody.

“How resilient this club was after yesterday's loss, how brutal that was for us, and in some ways embarrassing,” Kapler said. “And then to come back and fight from the very moment the game started all the way to the very last play of the game. ... Even after Hector gives up the home run, nobody quit. I think that's the calling card for our team: We get knocked down, we get back up.”