Confident Philadelphia Phillies win, secure first postseason berth in 11 years

HOUSTON — Aaron Nola had a perfect play in the seventh inning and Kyle Schwarber hit two homers as the Philadelphia Phillies secured their first playoff spot in 11 years with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

After Brandon Marsh caught Mauricio Dubon’s flyball midway through for the game’s finale, the players jumped and cheered with cheers before meeting at the mound where they hugged and bounced around some more.

The video board at Minute Maid Park displayed the team’s logo and the words: “Congratulations Philadelphia” as the Phillies celebrated.

A small but vocal group of Philadelphia fans gathered near the team’s dugout and chanted, “Let’s go Phillies” at the end of the ninth inning.

At the victorious clubhouse, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson gave his team a brief speech before the champagne flew.

“We’re not done yet,” he told his team. “After Wednesday we have 13 more wins and we are world champions. … Congratulations, enjoy, you deserve it.”

The Phillies won at the same stadium where they clinched their final postseason trip on September 14, 2011. That game was a 1-0 win over the Astros, highlighted by a complete ban from Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

Philadelphia’s postseason drought was the longest active in the majors after the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff spot in 21 years on Friday night.

“Have fun. That doesn’t always happen,” John Middleton, the Phillies’ main owner, told the team at the clubhouse. “I want to get used to it like we were from ’07 to ’11.”

The Phillies entered the opener of the last regular-season series of the year and needed a Brewers win or loss to earn a National League wildcard spot. The Brewers rallied to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings minutes before Philadelphia won.

Nola (11-13) hit nine and didn’t allow a baserunner until Yordan Alvarez singled out with two outs in the seventh. David Hensley followed with a single and Nola was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who defeated Kyle Tucker to end the inning.

Zach Eflin threw a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout and make his first save in 11 years of pro ball.

Schwarber got the Phillies going on their first visit to Houston since September 16, 2012 with a leading homer ahead of Lance McCullers (4-2).

Philadelphia added some insurance when Bryson Stott and Schwarber hit back-to-back solo shots from Jose Urquidy to start the eighth inning.

It’s the eighth multi-homer game this season for Schwarber, who leads the NL with a career-high 46 homers and gives him a career-high 199 homers.

The Phillies have three players who will play for the first time in the postseason after more than 600 career games. Jean Segura leads the group with 1,327, JT Realmuto with 1,004 and Rhys Hoskins with 666.

McCullers allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings.

Manager Dusty Baker replaced Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena with Aledmys Diaz, Dubon and Hensley in the seventh inning.

He said before the game that he plans to rest some of his starters early since Houston already has the best record in the American League.

Off the field, too, the news was good for Philadelphia. Phillies left-hander Brad Hand (elbow tendonitis) threw a bullpen session Monday and could throw live batting practice Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be ready to return for the postseason.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Confident Philadelphia Phillies win, secure first postseason berth in 11 years

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