Nola dominates as Phillies fend off the Braves in finale

Nola deals in Phillies win over Braves
Aaron Nola snapped his nine-start winless streak on Monday night, dominating the Braves at Citizens Bank Park while surrendering one run on two hits and one walk in eight innings. He struck out 10.

The bullpen, however, unraveled in the ninth but the Phillies built up enough of a cushion to secure a 13-8 victory.

Yep, the Phils' bullpen coughed up seven runs in the ninth, pushing their league-worst ERA to 9.87 on the season. Nick Pivetta accounted for six of those runs, allowing six hits.

“I'm frustrated for the guys that gave up the runs, because we want them to contribute and we want them to get going,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It does not dampen that we won the game, that Aaron pitched great and we swung the bats extremely well.”

As for Nola, he was spectacular. He threw just 89 pitches through eight innings of work. He had enough gas left in the tank to go one more inning, but Girardi pulled the plug.

“Aaron did not want to come out,” Girardi said. “But sometimes I feel that it's my job to protect players from themselves, right? And I feel bad pulling him. I told him. I understand if he's upset with me. I'm OK with that. But the prize is not in the month of August. And we need him to be healthy.”

"My stuff was working tonight," Nola added. "All three of my pitches, I was throwing for strikes. I was getting early outs and getting ahead of guys. I’ll take that into my next start.

“I feel it would be a different conversation if it was a close game. I could see myself going out (for the ninth) if it was a close game. But we got a W that’s all that matters. I don’t really want to put all the emphasis on that. We split with the Braves. We’re going to take that into tomorrow. Every win we get is a plus.”

Girardi turned to Pivetta in the ninth because he wanted him to get some work, not having pitched since the middle of last week. The broadcast showed the two talking prior to the start of the frame.

“I thought it was important that he pitch tonight,” Girardi said. “So, it was, ‘You're going to throw one inning.' It was nothing really enlightening. But I just wanted to explain to him why I was bringing him in this game. Because he hasn't pitched for five days and I thought he needed to pitch. But I needed to save him for length as well, and with Nola going so well, there was only one inning to throw.”

Pivetta, who entered camp hoping to secure a rotation spot, has struggled mightily in the bullpen. He has pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed 10 hits and 10 earned runs while posting a 15.88 ERA.

The Phillies bats erupted for four home runs and 10 runs scored over the first two frames, putting the game out of reach early. Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam, while Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto drove in three runs each in the win.

Up next
The Phillies welcome the Orioles to Citizens Bank Park for a three-game set. Zack Wheeler will pitch tonight's opener against right-hander Alex Cobb (1-1, 2.51). Wheeler is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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