Bryce Harper strengthens MVP case with monster game as Phillies make huge comeback vs. Cubs

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The Philadelphia Phillies are still alive in the postseason race. Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park the Phillies erased an early 7-0 deficit and rallied for a 17-8 win over the Chicago Cubs (box score). Philadelphia is three games behind the Braves in the NL East and 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card spot with 16 games to play.

Chicago built their 7-0 lead in the third inning, when six of the first seven batters reached base (the one exception was a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Kyle Hendricks). Matt Duffy’s three-run home run was the big blow. The Phillies answered with a seven-run inning of their own in the fourth. Two doubles, three singles, two hit batters, a walk, and a run-scoring fielder’s choice did the trick.

In the sixth, the Phillies took the lead on Bryce Harper’s one-run double and a Didi Gregorius two-run single, and they kept adding on from there. Odúbel Herrera had a two-run double, Harper had a three-run homer, and Jean Segura had a two-run single to turn a 7-0 deficit into a blowout win. Four relievers held Chicago to one run in the final six innings.

Harper went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a home run, and two walks Thursday. He now owns a .314/.428/.627 batting line (.354/.483/.767 in the second half) with 33 home runs, and he leads baseball with a 1.055 OPS. A not insignificant number of voters prefer the MVP to come from a contending team and the Phillies are very much in the race thanks to Harper. He’s a leading MVP candidate.

As for the Cubs, Thursday’s loss was the third time this season they blew at least a 6-0 lead. They blew a 7-0 first inning lead to the Brewers on June 30th (lost 15-7) and 6-0 first inning lead to the White Sox on Aug. 27 (lost 17-13). So, after taking their big leads, the Cubs were outscored a combined 49-8 the rest of the way in those three games. Ouch.

The Phillies open a three-game road series with the Mets on Friday. New York is 2 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East standings and this weekend is pretty much their last chance to get back in the race. After the Mets series, the Phillies will play seven straight games against the last place Pirates and Orioles.

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