Philadelphia Phillies

Suarez, Harper, Vierling Lead Surging Phillies to a Big Win in Front of Bigger Crowd

Ranger Suarez tossed a four-hit shutout and Bryce Harper continued his MVP march. The surging Phillies won their fifth in a row.

Suarez, Harper, Vierling lead surging Phillies to a big win in front of bigger crowd originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day at Citizens Bank Park.

Saturday was Ranger Suarez and Bryce Harper Appreciation Day.

A crowd of 28,135 – the largest at the ballpark since August 15 -- showered both players with a hefty dose of gratitude during the Phillies’ 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the penultimate home game of the season.

Suarez, who had never pitched more than seven innings in a pro career that began in 2012, tossed a four-hit shutout. He walked none and struck out eight.

Harper clubbed his 34th homer and was serenaded with chants of “MVP! ... MVP! ... MVP!”

The victory was the Phillies’ fifth in a row and it put them in position to be just a half-game behind first-place Atlanta in the National League East, depending on the outcome of the Braves’ game in San Diego.

The two teams begin a three-game showdown Tuesday night in Atlanta.

The win also ensured the Phillies of at least a .500 season. They are 81-74 with seven games to play. The Phils have not had a winning season since 2011, which is also the last time they made the playoffs.

With a week to go in the regular season, both pursuits are within reach and Suarez and Harper deserve a lot of credit for that. Both have had monster performances in the second half of the season to help keep the Phillies alive.

Suarez had made 11 starts since moving into the rotation in early August. His ERA in those starts is 1.69.

He needed just 97 pitches to complete his impressive shutout of the Pirates on Saturday. The crowd stood and cheered as he recorded the final out.

Harper’s third-inning homer -- which came two batters Matt Vierling’s first-big league homer -- was his 46th extra-base hit since the All-Star break and that’s the most in franchise history. Chase Utley (2005) and Ryan Howard (2006) both had 45.

The Phillies will look to sweep the Pirates on Fan Appreciation Day Sunday.

The Phils will use their bullpen to get through the game. Suarez made sure that unit got some much-needed rest on Saturday.

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