PHILADELPHIA– Bryce Harper hit a two-barrel single in his first at-bat after 52 games from a broken left thumb, helping the struggling Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Harper landed twice and lined up sharply in his three other at-bats in his first action since he was hit in the hand by San Diego Padres left-hander Blake Snell on June 25. The reigning NL MVP served as batsman-designated and helped the Phillies win their fifth straight game.
Philadelphia, going 32-20 without Harper, started the game in second place in the NL wildcard race.
Rhys Hoskins singled, doubled and drove in one run for the Phillies.
Bryan Reynolds, Ben Gamel and Rodolfo Castro scored for the Pirates, who have lost six straight games and 12 of 14. Pittsburgh fell to 47-78.
Harper jogged to warm up to loud cheers and “Let’s Go Harper!” chants 25 minutes before the first pitch. The ovation from the announced audience of 30,546 was deafening when Harper was introduced 20 minutes later. The cheers grew even louder, accompanied by a standing ovation and “MVP!” chants as he stepped onto the plate with no outs and bases loaded into the first.
With a 2-2 count against Bryse Wilson (2-8), Harper lined a tough two-run single into right field.
Harper went 5 for 8 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs in two rehab starts Tuesday and Wednesday at the triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies had planned to keep Harper in Triple-A through Saturday, but his return to the big leagues was pushed up after his walk-off double for the IronPigs on Wednesday night.
Fans weren’t the only ones excited to see Harper back in Philadelphia. His wife, Kayla, posted a photo of her on social media sitting in Citizens Bank Park wearing a shirt with multiple images of Harper on it. She captioned the post, “Wear my heart on my sleeve.”
Phillies starter Bailey Falter (2-3), standing in for injured right-hander Zack Wheeler, gave up three five-hit runs in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Brad Hand made a scoreless ninth place finish on his fifth save.
Harper’s two-run single was part of Philadelphia’s first four-run, aided by second baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes’ throwing error on Kyle Schwarber’s grounder to start the game. After Harper’s hit, JT Realmuto’s Grounder and Nick Castellanos’ single scored two more runs.
Wilson didn’t return after the first after allowing four runs, three of them earned, on five hits.
Philadelphia took a 6-0 lead from Hoskins in the second RBI single, and he scored later in the frame when shortstop Newman mishandled Realmuto’s grounder.
Newman’s double homer in the fourth and solo shots from Castro in the fifth and Gamel in the seventh, both ahead of the innings, drew Pittsburgh 6-4 ahead of Bryson Stott’s RBI single at the bottom of the eighth.
fans in the stands
With Harper back, the Phillies drew about 10,000 more fans than they averaged in their four-game home win over the Reds this week. During that streak, it averaged 21,227.
Pirates: Rookie RHP Colin Holderman was placed on the 15-day IL with right shoulder pain after giving up five runs on three hits without getting an out in his last start on Wednesday. RHP Yohan Ramirez was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Holderman’s place.
Phillies: CF Brandon Marsh (sprained right ankle) started his second rehab Friday night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Marsh, who was injured Aug. 16, could return to the Philadelphia lineup on Saturday. … Wheeler is expected to miss two starts with tendinitis in his right forearm.
Pirates RHP Tyler Beede (1-3, 4:13) takes on Phillies RHP Kyle Gibson (8-5, 4:30) in the second contest of the three-game set on Saturday night.
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