Harper's return: 2-RBI single in surging Phils' win

by Daryn Albert - Bryce Harper was back in the Phillies' starting lineup for the Friday night game against the Pittsburgh Pirates after missing 52 games with a broken left thumb.

Bryce Harper returns from 52-game absence, drives in two to help surging Phillies stay hot 4:21 PM ET ESPN News Services Bryce Harper hit a two-run single in his first at-bat after a 52-game absence due to a broken left thumb, helping the streaking Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. Harper grounded out twice and lined out sharply in his three other at-bats in his first action since being hit on the hand by San Diego Padres left-hander Blake Snell on June 25. The reigning NL MVP batted cleanup as the designated hitter and helped the Phillies win their fifth straight game. Philadelphia, which went 32-20 without Harper, began play in second place in the NL wild-card race. Editor's Picks Harper jogged out for warmups to loud cheers and "Let's Go Harper!'' chants 25 minutes before first pitch. The ovation from the announced crowd of 30,546 was deafening when Harper was introduced 20 minutes later. The cheers grew even louder, accompanied by a standing ovation and "M-V-P!'' chants, when he stepped to the plate with no outs and the bases loaded in the first. With a 2-2 count against Bryse Wilson (2-8), Harper lined a hard two-run single into right field. Harper went 5 for 8 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs in a pair of rehab starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Phillies had planned to keep Harper in Triple-A through Saturday, but his return to the big leagues was moved up after his walk-off double for the IronPigs on Wednesday night. The fans weren't the only ones happy to see Harper back in Philadelphia. His wife, Kayla, posted a photo on social media of her seated at Citizens Bank Park wearing a shirt with multiple images of Harper on it. She captioned the post, "wearing my heart on my sleeve." With Harper back, the Phillies drew about 10,000 more fans than they averaged in their four-game home sweep of the Reds this week. They averaged 21,227 during that series. The Associated Press contributed to this report.