Phillies aim to oust D-backs, return to World Series

No team this month has played better at home than the Philadelphia Phillies, who have a chance Monday to do their part to create a rare World Series rematch.

But the Arizona Diamondbacks are uniquely prepared as well for the task that awaits them.

The Phillies will look to clinch their second straight National League pennant while the Diamondbacks will attempt to extend their season Monday, when Philadelphia hosts Arizona in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The game will begin at 5:07 p.m. ET.

Aaron Nola (3-0, 0.96 ERA this postseason) is slated to start for the Phillies against fellow right-hander Merrill Kelly (1-1, 3.00).

The Phillies inched within a win of a return trip to the World Series on Saturday night, when Zack Wheeler tossed seven innings of one-run ball and Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto homered in a 6-1 victory.

The Phillies are trying to become the first NL team to win consecutive pennants since the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017-18. Philadelphia squandered a 2-1 series lead last year against the Astros, who won the next three games to earn their second World Series championship.

The Astros and Phillies are aiming to create the first World Series rematch since the New York Yankees defeated the Dodgers in 1977 and ‘78.

“We can’t think too much ahead — if we were to make it there and they make it there, it’s pretty cool,” Wheeler said. “It’s really hard to do, making it to the World Series, so two teams to make it there back-to-back would be pretty awesome.”

The Phillies have thrived in their chaotic atmosphere of home, where they are 6-0 this postseason and have outscored the Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves 39-8. Philadelphia went 6-2 at home during the playoffs last year.

“We have to play the game Monday and get back to Philly where we like to play,” Wheeler said. “I know they’re going to be very excited for it.”

The Diamondbacks remain upbeat even after missing a chance to take the series lead following comeback wins in Games 3 and 4.

“We know what’s ahead of us — we know either way we were going back to Philly and we were going to have to win baseball games there,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.

Arizona reached the NLCS for the first time since 2007 by thriving in intense situations, especially on the road. After sweeping the host Milwaukee Brewers in an NL wild-card series, the Diamondbacks swept a best-of-five NL Division Series from the Dodgers, whom they outscored 15-4 in the first two games in Los Angeles.

The Phillies never trailed in the first two games of the NLCS, but the Diamondbacks climbed back into the series with a 2-1, walk-off win on Thursday and scoring four runs in the final two innings of a 6-5 victory on Friday.

“We have to go out and play our best game in Game 6,” Lovullo said. “I believe in Merrill Kelly. I believe in the guys to go out there and execute and play at a higher level and make plays and do things right.”

Nola and Kelly opposed each other in Game 2 last Tuesday. Nola earned the win, allowing three hits over six scoreless innings as the Phillies rolled to a 10-0 victory. Kelly gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings before Philadelphia piled on against the Arizona bullpen.

Nola is 5-2 with a 3.25 ERA in eight career postseason starts. Kelly has made all three of his playoff starts this month.

Nola is 2-2 with a 7.67 ERA in five regular-season starts against the Diamondbacks. Kelly is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Phillies.