Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos key Phillies’ 9th-inning rally for second time in a week in walk-off win


It looked like it would be another dud for the Phillies to directly follow a big offensive night, then the ninth inning happened.

For the second time in a week, the Phillies mounted a ninth-inning rally against the opposing closer to tie the game. Unlike last Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, the Phils were able to finish the job, walking off with a win over the Blue Jays thanks to Bo Bichette’s game-ending throwing error.

The Phillies had runners on first and second with one out in the 10th when Bryce Harper stepped to the plate. He swung at the first pitch like he loves to do and hit a ball hard directly back to pitcher Tim Mayza, who quickly began a 1-6-3 double-play attempt. The throw to Bichette at the second base bag was accurate but Bichette rushed his end of the play and sailed the ball over Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s head. Edmundo Sosa came around to score and that was all she wrote.

The Phillies won, 2-1, after being dominated by Kevin Gausman for six innings.

“You can’t count us out,” Brandon Marsh said. “It just shows to the squad that you’ve got 27 outs. It’s a weird game. Crazy how it was such a slow game for such a long time from both sides besides (Brandon) Belt’s solo homer. It was a grind for both teams and we were blessed to come out on top.”

The Phillies’ game-tying rally started the same way it started last Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, with Harper singling and Nick Castellanos getting on base after a long plate appearance. The one last week was an eight-pitch walk against Brusdar Graterol, a Dodgers reliever with a triple-digit fastball who was trying to put Castellanos away with his slider. This time, it was a nine-pitch at-bat against Toronto closer Jordan Romano that included five foul balls and ended with a Castellanos single up the middle.


Castellanos, who is hitting .322 with an .894 OPS, also saved a run in the sixth inning, leaping at the warning track to rob Matt Chapman of an extra-base hit.

“He’s really engaged, he’s really locked in,” manager Rob Thomson said.

J.T. Realmuto delivered the biggest knock in the ninth, a line-drive RBI double over the head of left fielder Daulton Varsho to score Harper.

“We worked counts, we battled, we fought and that’s what this team does,” Thomson said. “They’re very resilient, as I’ve said many times.

Zack Wheeler nearly matched a dominant performance from Gausman. Wheeler went seven innings and allowed just three hits, including the solo homer by Belt which was the game’s only run until the bottom of the ninth.

Wheeler has pitched very well in three of his last four starts but this one was probably the best.

“This is more satisfying,” Wheeler said of his longest start so far in 2023. “This is where I want to be.”

The Phillies are 18-19 ahead of an off-day Thursday and a six-game road trip to Colorado and San Francisco. This was their first sweep of the season, albeit a two-gamer. The mood in the clubhouse was much different than it was four days earlier when the Phils had followed a four-game winning streak with six straight losses.

They’ve gone 8-7 over their last five series, all against tough teams in the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Astros and Mariners.

“I thought it was a great game all the way around,” Thomson said. “We won the homestand against two really good American League teams.”