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Phillies dismantle Braves in Game 3, they're one win away from the NLCS

Bryce Harper answered Orlando Arcia's mockery with a mammoth three-run homer and a solo shot, glaring at the shortstop on each trot around the bases, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 10-2 in Game 3 of their NLDS on Wednesday night.

Nick Castellanos homered twice as Philadelphia rebounded from its disappointing loss at Atlanta on Monday night. Trea Turner and Brandon Marsh also went deep.

Phillies dominated from the beginning

Aaron Nola (2-0) and four relievers combined to push the 104-win Braves to the brink of elimination. The Phillies can advance to the NL Championship Series for the second straight season with a win at home Thursday.

Harper continues to make teams pay for any perceived slight, and his eighth and ninth postseason homers in the last two seasons added to his growing October lore.

Not that he needs any incentive to go deep, but Harper tried to atone for a Game 2 baserunning blunder that capped an astonishing collapse. Harper had rounded second base on a deep flyout and was doubled up at first to end the game, the final meltdown in a series of late-inning plays that melted a 4-0 lead into a 5-4 loss.

In the jubilant Atlanta clubhouse after the win, Arcia reportedly cracked, "ha-ha, attaboy, Harper." Faster than Harper rocked his shot off Game 3 starter Bryce Elder (0-1), the barb got back to the two-time NL MVP.

"If that adds to his motivation," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said ahead of Game 3, "then thank you."

Harper and Castellanos seemed to send a message about the wisecrack when they arrived at the ballpark wearing gear inspired by Colorado coach Deion Sanders. Harper wore a " Coach Prime" T-shirt and Castellanos a "Prime" hoodie.

The brash Sanders retorted at criticism earlier this season from a rival coach by saying, "they done messed around and made it personal."

Harper took it personal

First, though, it was Castellanos - who said after Game 2 that the Phillies "thrive after we get punched in the face" - who delivered the first counterpunch with a homer in the third that tied it at 1.

Rep Deion, hit dingers. That's a Philly fact. Also true, the Phillies pounded the Braves in the third inning of Game 3 of the NLDS for the second straight season.

A year ago, the Phillies returned home from a 1-1 split in Atlanta and scored six runs in the third. The outburst was highlighted by Rhys Hoskins' bat spike on a three-run homer.

After Castellanos and Harper went deep off Elder in this one for a 4-1 lead, catcher J.T. Realmuto tacked on a two-run double against Michael Tonkin.

Harper added a solo shot to center in front of 45,798 frenzied Phillies fans in the fifth off Brad Hand - well out of reach for Michael Harris II, who saved the Game 2 win with a great leaping catch - and delivered one more death stare to Arcia as he rounded second base.

"Stare downs aren't an official stat (yet!) but we're all in awe of Harper over here," the Elias Sports Bureau wrote on social media.

Nola, eligible for free agency after the World Series, tipped his cap in appreciation of a roaring standing ovation after 5 2/3 innings. He struck out nine and allowed Ozzie Albies' RBI single in the third.

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