PHILADELPHIA—Andrew Knapp watched the ball roll toward Chicago’s dugout and pulled up on his sprint down the basepath. He could stroll home on the wildest of walkoffs a passed ball that kept the Phillies from dropping further in the NL pennant race.
Knapp scored when the ball knocked off Robinson Chirinos’ mitt in the ninth inning to bolster Philadelphia’s tenuous playoff push with a 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
The Phillies bullpen blew the lead in the eighth and ninth innings. Chirinos hit a two-run homer off Jose Alvarado that tied it 4-all in the eighth. Matt Duffy hit a solo shot off Ian Kennedy (2-1) in the ninth and tied it at 5.
The Phillies have 32 blown saves this season.
“We won the game. That’s all that matters,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.
J.T. Realmuto, the All-Star game catcher playing first because of a sore right shoulder, led off the eighth inning with his 15th homer of the season in a topsy-turvy final two innings for a club clinging to playoff aspirations.
Knapp led off the ninth with a single off Trevor Megill (1-2) and advanced to third on a sacrifice and a ground- out. Chirinos couldn’t get a handle on Megill’s knuckle curve and Knapp scooted home with the winning run.
“It’s hard to get crossed-up with nobody on second base,” said Cubs manager and for- mer catcher David Ross. “Sometimes as a catcher, when you’re a catcher and you’re expecting the ball to break and it goes the other way, that can tip off your glove and get some funny spin on it which is tough to catch.”
Alvarado wasted another solid outing by righty Ranger Suarez. He struck out a career-high eight over six innings. He made his 10th start of the season out of 37 appearances and has a 1.50 ERA over 90 innings.
The Phillies have leaned more on Bryce Harper to keep them in the race.
He led off the fourth with a double off Cubs starter Alec Mills and scored when Didi Gregorious hit into a double play. Freddy Galvis added a two-run homer, his 13th, later in the inning for a 3-0 lead.
The Phillies had lost six of seven and eight of 11 overall as part of a late-summer swoon that knocked them out of a short run in first place in the NL East.
The Phillies are expected to throw a bullpen game in the series finale against Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (14-6, 4.54 ERA).