IF THIS IS AN NLCS PREVIEW, PHILS ARE GOING TO WORLD SERIES!

By Peter Marks

The Phillies have won the first two games of this three-game showdown of two NL division leaders.

At 60-32, only the 1976 team (in 88 games) reached that mark faster in a season in franchise history.

Kyle Schwarber hit his eighth leadoff homer of the season to help offset Harper’s absence.

The Phillies again beat Ohtani and the NL West leaders without Harper, out this time with a bruised left hand. Harper had missed the previous nine games with a strained left hamstring until he returned for Tuesday’s 10-1 win. A two-time NL MVP, Harper was hurt at an unspecified point, though he clearly grabbed his hand and hunched over in pain on a second-inning chopper by Miguel Rojas.

With an All-Star slugger sidelined, an All-Star reliever in Stram bailed out the Phillies.

The Dodgers made it 4-3 in the eighth. Jeff Hoffmanone of seven Phillies selected for the NL All-Star team — tossed a scoreless ninth inning for his ninth save.

“We know we stack up with those guys, they know that we stack up with them,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t won two games. I still think we have a pretty good ballclub.”

Key cogs Harper, catcher J.T. Realmuto (out until after the All-Star break), outfielder Brandon Marsh and Schwarber have all been on the injured list for the Phillies this season. All-Star pitcher Zack Wheeler is fighting back stiffness.

Yet nothing has truly slowed a Phillies team determined to win the World Series they could not do — losing in Houston in 2022; losing to Arizona in the NL Championship Series in 2023 — each of the last two seasons.

If the Phillies are looking for that one last push ahead of the All-Star break to chase 70 wins at a franchise-record pace, a three-game weekend series against the Oakland A’s might get them there.

Cristopher Sánchez (7-4) struck out five and allowed two runs in six innings for the Phillies on another sticky night in Philly. He coughed up a 2-0 lead and the Dodgers tied it on Ohtani’s RBI single in the fifth.

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