Saturday, July 8, 2017

Nola pieces together another gem, but Phillies bats go silent

Aaron Nola pitched well, but the Philadelphia Phillies lost again
The San Diego Padres are far from an offensive juggernaut, but Aaron Nola again showed glimpses of the potential ace the Phillies hope he can be in a 2-1 loss Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

Nola threw 111 pitches over eight innings, surrendering two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out nine. It was his fourth consecutive start where he's tossed  a minimum of seven innings and allowed two runs or less.

"He's been great," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's been pitching outstanding, what a performance. He ran into some trouble in the seventh with a few pitches but went back out there in the eighth and shut them down."

Hunter Renfroe opened the seventh for the Padres with a double down the right-field line. Carlos Asuaje later followed with a two-out triple to right-center and then scored on an Austin Hedges single up the middle. It marked the second straight day Hedges drove in the game-winning run.

The Phillies lone run came in the fifth via a solo-shot by Maikel Franco, his 13th homer of the season. He did, however, hit into a game-ending fielder's choice with the tying run on base and also left a pair of runners in scoring position with a fly-out in the seventh.

"He had good pitches to hit, he just missed them," Mackanin said. "It just boils down to that, he had two or three fastballs that he could have hit."

Despite the outcome, the story of the afternoon was Nola.  He retired 12 straight at one point and also became the first pitcher to record eight or more strikeouts in four straight starts since Cliff Lee accomplished the feat five times in September 2013.

"I'm just going out trying to do my part and go deep into games," Nola said. "Every time I go out I try and save the bullpen and keep the runs to a minimum."

The recipe for his recent run of success?

"I think getting ahead in counts and getting the lead off hitter out," Nola said. "It definitely makes pitching more fun when you can do that, and it's less stressful."

Herrera Lifted
Odubel Herrera was lifted for Cameron Perkins as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

"I'm looking for consistency at the plate and I'm not seeing it," Mackanin said. "I don't know what I'm going to get every at-bat and because of that I have to make adjustments."

Herrera was 0-for-2 on the day with a strikeout.

Lively Optioned
With the All-Star break near and Ben Lively not scheduled to start for at least 10 days, the Phillies optioned the righty to Lehigh Valley.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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