Brilliant pitching by Nola and a home run by Harper lead the Phillies to the Division Series

The sold-out crowd of 48,515, the third-largest in Busch Stadium history, waved the flag in its hoarsest fashion trying to keep the dream season alive for Pujols, Molina and the rest of the Cardinals. Instead, their fans watched the NL Central champions go down with a groan, losing in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year.

Harper, who was hitless in Game 1, put the Phillies ahead when a 76 mph curveball left his bat at 111.6 mph on the first pitch of the second inning. The ball went through the cold October breeze and landed 435 feet away.

The way pitchers have dominated the wild-card round, it was thought Harper’s powerful swing could be the difference.

Nola made the final brilliant outing, giving up a single to Lars Nootbaar to open the game before sweeping the rest of the St. Louis lineup. The next blob down the line from the right-hander didn’t come until Edman walked in the third, and Nola quickly struck out Nootbaar and grounded Pujols meekly to end that inning.

Nola also got some spectacular defense behind him.

Third baseman Alec Bohm made a stellar trap off Molina’s ball that hit sharply down the line that led off third, then made an even more impressive catch to rob Arenado of the extra bases in the fourth.

Bohm followed that up with a ground rule double that opened the fifth. Brandon Marsh made a sacrifice bunt and, after Jean Segura was hit by Mikolas’ final pitch, Jordan Montgomery walked Bryson Stott on four pitches to load the bases. Kyle Schwarber followed with a sacrifice fly to extend Philadelphia’s lead.

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The Phillies’ base slip? That was not so good.

Harper was ejected trying to take second base with a single in the sixth; the call was held after a video review. Moments later, Bohm was hauled off first base with a runner standing on third to end the once-promising inning.

The way Nola and his bullpen were throwing, none of it ended up mattering.

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