PHILADELPHIA (AP) Garrett Stubbs still stripped one strap down on his powder blue Phillies overalls at his locker, just as he did 24 hours earlier when he hosted a hoedown inside a booze-soaked clubhouse.
It was the same garish look Stubbs sported when he sprayed the team owner with bubbly. He wore overalls just as he did a night earlier when he tipped his head back and let teammates pour beer down his throat as part of a rowdy postseason clinching celebration.
Yes, Stubbs drank all the alcohol and then laughed at all the memes, the ones that showed the backup catcher would see six baseballs at once when it was his time to hit in what was affectionately called a “hangover game.”
One that seemed appropriate when Stubbs awoke from a night of partying.
“Probably still a little hammered from the night before,” Stubbs said, laughing.
Once at the plate, Stubbs hammered one - a three-run shot - that sparked a rally for the Phillies that was completed when Bryce Harper hit a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning in a 7-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, a day after clinching the NL's top wild-card spot.
Stubbs, who entered the game batting just .196 in 30 games, hit his first homer since Aug. 16, 2022.
“Yeah, all it took was a bunch of champagne, drinking all night and going out,” Stubbs said. “There it was the next day, a homer.”
A night after a raucous late-night celebration that saw outfielder Brandon Marsh ride a mechanical bull, designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, third baseman Alec Bohm, catcher J.T. Realmuto and right fielder Nick Castellanos all took the night off.
Harper, one of the few regulars in the lineup and playing first base, had three hits, and slugged his 21st homer of the season off reliever Jose Hernandez (1-3) for the 7-6 lead.
Gregory Soto struck out the side in the ninth inning for his third save and preserved the Phillies' seventh straight win.
And yes, Stubbs survived all nine innings.
The backup catcher became a social media hit in Philadelphia after videos of him dancing and drinking in overalls in the clubhouse on Tuesday night were unleashed into the viral universe, and there was faux concern that he could actually play.
Was he really hydrated? Was he rested?
“I love popping champagne,” Stubbs said. “I think the rest of the guys in the locker room do, too.”
Stubbs took a healthy cut on a four-seam fastball from Pirates starter Johan Oviedo in the fourth and slugged a three-run homer to right.
Phillies fans went wild for their cult hero, and he was welcomed at home with a warm embrace from Bryson Stott.
“Everybody just pulls for Stubby,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “He's kind of the energy guy in the clubhouse and in the dugout. He's a great teammate. One of the best teammates I've ever been around. So everybody pulls for him.”
His homer cut the Phils' deficit to 5-4, the second time in as many years Philadelphia trailed early in the first game after a clincher. A year ago, the Phillies secured a wild-card spot in Houston, then Ranger Suarez went out and got rocked for six runs in two innings the next game. It happened again against the Pirates.
Suarez gave up three runs in the first and two in the second against the Pirates. The 28-year-old left-hander was chased in the fifth after Jack Suwinski tripled in a run to make it 6-4.
Edmundo Sosa hit his 10th homer of the year for the Phillies, a solo shot, and Christian Pache tied the game 6-all on an RBI single in the sixth that scored Harper.
Connor Joe had four hits for the Pirates.
STAR IS BORN
Phillies rookie reliever Orion Kerkering (1-0) threw 18 sliders and struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief for his first big league win. He's thrown two shutout innings in two appearances since his debut over the weekend. The 22-year-old Kerkering blazed through four stops in the minor leagues this year and was expected to make the postseason roster.
Thomson named Zack Wheeler the Game 1 starter Tuesday in the National League Wild Card Series opener, and Aaron Nola starts Game 2 the following day. Wheeler starts the series finale Thursday. Nola will skip his final scheduled start.
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins continues to make progress in his return from a torn ACL in his left knee that has cost him all season. Hoskins might soon see some live pitching, and Thomson continues to say “there's a chance” the popular slugger is back for the World Series, should the Phillies make it. Hoskins would be a DH or pinch hitter only and would not play first base.
Hoskins is a candidate to head to Clearwater, Florida, to continue his rehab and work out with minor leaguers the Phillies have sent to their complex to stay ready in case they are need in the postseason. Darick Hall, Weston Wilson, Cody Clemens and pitchers Andrew Bellatti, Connor Brogdon and Nick Nelson are among the group headed to Florida.
Zach Wheeler (13-6, 3.64 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies in the series finale on Thursday. The Pirates did not name a starter.
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