Nola tosses a gem, Herrera two-run shot lifts Phillies past Nats

Aaron Nola for the Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola walked off the mound at Nationals Park in the eighth inning on Thursday afternoon with his head held high. He hurled eight masterful innings against the Nats, matching fellow Cy Young award contender Max Scherzer pitch-for-pitch.

Odubel Herrera delivered the lone offensive highlight of the afternoon, a two-run homer off Scherzer in the seventh to deliver the Phillies a much needed 2-0 victory.

The story, however, was Nola and yet another captivating performance that included nine strikeouts and just four hits. Facing trouble in the eighth with two men on, he pumped a 2-2 fastball past Bryce Harper to end the threat. It's what aces do, particularly in a pennant race.

‘‘I think there’s a lot of pitchers around the league who hitters tend to get more comfortable (with),’’ Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters afterward (see video). ‘‘It seems like hitters get less comfortable every time they face Aaron Nola. Right when we needed him most, right when we needed him to step up, he really just put the team on his shoulders and carried us today.’’

Is he a legitimate Cy Young contender?



"I believe so, yes," Kapler said. "Of course, Nola is our guy. I watch him every time out there and just the dependability, the consistency, the creativity, the numbers. The numbers speak for themselves. I think today was an example of how he beat Max Scherzer."

Pat Neshek tossed a perfect ninth to secure the save.

The win was vital for the Phillies who dropped the first two games of the series. The Braves won their contest against the Pirates, so the Phils remain three off the pace in the NL East race and a game behind the Brewers for the final wild-card spot.

Scherzer finished with ten strikeouts on the afternoon, his lone blemish coming on a cutter that Herrera deposited over the right-field fence.

The Phillies travel to Toronto and open a weekend series with the Blue Jays on Friday. Jake Arrieta will start the opener for the Phillies while Toronto counters with left-hander Ryan Borucki.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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