Padres stun Phillies as big brother gets best of little brother

SAN DIEGO — Well, this should be a rather interesting dinner at the Nola household during the holidays.

Will you pass the turkey, please? Can I get another scoop of those sweet potatoes? Any greens left?

And, oh, hey kids, how about that time we spent that steamy 92-degree Wednesday afternoon together with 44,607 crazed fans at Petco Park in San Diego in October?

You remember, it was the game where you were cruising Aaron, but then your brother, Austin, started that wild five-run inning to knock you out of the game, forcing all of us to fly to Philadelphia with no idea who’s going to win this National League Championship Series?

Yep, that one.

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The Phillies, who were putting a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series and punching their ticket to the World Series Wednesday, instead felt like they were hit by a tidal wave.

The San Diego Padres stunned the Phillies, 8-5, scoring eight unanswered runs, including a five-run, 37-minute fifth inning that was sparked by Austin Nola’s run-scoring single off his brother, turning the game upside down.

The two teams are tied at one game apiece heading to Philadelphia, where the next three games are scheduled at Citizens Bank Park, with the winner going to the World Series.

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Stacie Nola, their mom who calls the NLCS “nervewracking,’’ says she’s not rooting for one particular team, but would love for the series to go just five games so they can head back home to Louisiana to sleep in their own beds and pack for the World Series.

Well, after what we’ve witnessed the first two games, there may be a better chance of the boys sharing bunk beds together again than one of these evenly matched teams can possibly win three consecutive games against one another.

No wonder A.J. Nola, the family patriarch, was wearing a Padres cap, a Phillies jersey, and Padres jersey underneath, in the first game a set of brothers faced one another in a postseason game since Sandy and Roberto Alomar in 1997. It was the first time two brothers faced one another as a pitcher and a position player in the same game.

Who can blame him for being conflicted with this roller-coaster series with the Phillies producing just three hits but still winning Game 1, scoring four runs on five hits in the second inning, but still losing?

It was only the third time in Phillies postseason history that they lost a game when leading by at least four runs, and are now 27-3 in such games.

The craziness began when the Phillies, who managed just three hits in Game 1, including two blasts, decided to go pitch-and-putt this day. Bryce Harper led off the second inning with a single to center, and Nick Castellanos followed with a soft single to right field. Alec Bohm followed with another single to right, scoring Harper, with Castellanos sliding into third on Soto’s wild throw, permitting Bohm to second.

Snell struck out Jean Segura for the first out, and looked like he would get his second out when Matt Vierling hit a routine fly ball to right field, only for Soto to battle the sun, and then give up on it, with the ball dropping for a run-scoring double. Edmundo Sosa, the No. 9 hitter, followed with another single, scoring the Philles’ third run. And Kyle Schwarber capped it off the four-run outburst with a ground ball to first baseman Brandon Drury that he couldn’t field cleanly, stepping on the bag for the out, but with Vierling scoring.

By the time the inning ended, Padres starter Blake Snell threw 37 pitches, and was on the ropes.

Yet, three innings later, Snell was still in the game, and Nola was out.

The Padres picked up Snell by immediately scoring two runs with back-to-back home runs, on back-to-back pitches, by trade deadline pickups Brandon Drury and Josh Bell.

Drury sent Aaron Nola’s 94-mph fastball over the left-field wall, and one pitch later, Bell took his 94-mph fastball deep over the right field wall.

“I was planning to take a pitch,’’ Bell said on TV during the game, “but after Drury went deep,  said, “If he throws me a cookie, I’m going to swing at it.’’’

The cookie was sent into orbit, and just like that, it was 4-2 and the frenzied sellout crowd was rockin’ Petco Park.

The Padres almost had the joint coming down in that 37-minute fifth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate. It started off innocently enough with Ha-Seong Kim leading off with a single, and Trent Grisham striking out.

Then, up stepped Austin Nola, three years older than his brother, to the plate. Austin, who grounded out in his first at-bat, fouled off an 88.5-mph cutter on the first pitch. He swung and missed a 94.4-mph fastball on the second pitch. He barely fouled off the next to stay alive, and Aaron, looking for the strikeout, came back with a 95.1-mph sinker.

Austin was ready for it.

He drilled it into the right-center-field gap, scoring Kim, and the Phillies were never again the same. Aaron Nola lasted just three more batters. Reliever Brad Hand faced the next three batters, giving up two more runs, without recording an out.

By the time the smoke cleared, the Padres had 7-4 lead, and the Phillies were dazed, collecting just three hits the rest of the game.

So, yes, there will be plenty to unpack at the family dinner, with Stacie and A.J. thrilled that one of their sons are going to the World Series, but having no idea which one.

Oh, and about that Christmas present last year when Aaron gave his brother the baseball he struck him out on, with Austin giving it to his dogs, Austin may get a certain gift in return.

Aw, nothing like brotherly love.

The brothers met for lunch Monday, but as far as getting together again, well, it may have to wait.

“It’s pretty neat,’’ Aaron Nola said. “We’re going to enjoy this moment and soak it in because we don’t know when it’ll ever happen again, us playing against each other at this stage of the NLCS, and that we’re blessed to be in this position against each other and on the same field.

“Pretty cool.’’

Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

This post appeared first on USA TODAY