Nola and Phillies beat by Braves
The Phillies entered Friday's series opener with the Braves hoping to move beyond Thursday's embarrassing doubleheader sweep. Unfortunately, Aaron Nola - who had been superb to open the season - tossed a dud and the Phillies fell to Braves in Atlanta, 11-2.

Nola surrendered four runs on six hits (a pair of homers) and three walks while striking out three in just 2 2/3 innings. It was the shortest start of his career.

The Phillies entered Friday just three games behind the Braves in the NL East. That number has now fallen to four.

“Any pitcher that has the talent and the consistency of Aaron Nola, when they don’t have it, you’re shocked,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “It just happens. It happens to the greatest pitchers of all time. Sometimes they don’t have their command or they don’t have their stuff that day. He just really struggled tonight for whatever reason. I would expect that he would bounce back the next time.”

Nola threw 71 pitches, including 34 in the third inning before being lifted.

“Pretty bad all around all night,” Nola said. “I didn’t get out of the third inning, which obviously stinks. I don’t think that’s ever happened. But I learn from it tonight and get back to work tomorrow. I didn’t feel horrible. I didn’t feel bad. I was just missing a little bit with my fastball and I was getting behind.”

The loss was the Phils fourth straight. The club now sits at 9-13 on the season.

The lone bright spot on the evening was the debut of rookie reliever JoJo Romero. The left-hander struck out the side in the eighth inning and worked with a fastball averaging 95 mph.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Girardi said. “What was impressive to me was how he attacked the zone and had command down in the zone and was able to expand with his slider. I talked about him in Spring Training, too. He might have thrown the most impressive live BP that I saw. He looked sharp tonight. That was really encouraging. He’s got weapons and he can be an uncomfortable at-bat for a lot of different people.”

The Phillies aim to turn things around on Saturday with Zack Wheeler on the bump. He'll be opposed by Robbie Erlin.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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