Phillies vs Braves: Aaron Nola shines as Phillies win split series in Atlanta

Phillies vs Braves: Aaron Nola shines as Phillies win split series in Atlanta

ATLANTA — A few long droughts ended for the Phillies on Thursday night.

JT Realmuto hit his first home run since May 3 and Aaron Nola brilliantly threw his first win since Opening Day as the Phillies closed out a four-way game against the Atlanta Braves with a victory over the road 4-1.

The win gave the Phillies a shared streak with the Braves. Both teams are 21-24 and 7½ games behind the NL East leaders New York Mets. The Phils open a three-game series against the Mets in New York on Friday night.

“It’s huge,” manager Joe Girardi said of the split. “It’s a tough place to play. They’re the reigning world champions. They’re a very good team. We needed them. We have to keep playing better on the road. Now we’re going to New York. Both of these teams are in our division. We have to take care of business.

The Phils are 10-11 on the road. Lefty Bailey Falter will come from Triple A to start Friday night’s game in New York. Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler will kick off Saturday and Sunday night, respectively.

The Phillies and Mets have already played nine times this season, with the Mets winning six.

Thursday’s victory, which kept the Phillies from falling to five games below the season-high .500 mark, came after they played sloppy ball on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and saw their bullpen hit hard during of the two games.

Nola limited bullpen exposure with a gem – 8 1/3 innings from a walk ball. He scattered five hits and struck out 10. The Phillies had lost eight straight starts with Nola on the mound prior to this one.

“He threw an awesome game,” Girardi said. “He kept his count down, didn’t really have a lot of problems. He was awesome.”

Nola got offensive support from teammate Realmuto, who homered in the third inning, and center fielder Odubel Herrera, who hit a massive two-run double with two outs in the top of the seventh to extend the team’s lead. Three-point Phillies.

Kyle Schwarber went just 1 of 11 in the four-game series, but he helped the Phillies rally in the seventh by drawing a two-out walk against Braves starter Kyle Wright. Wright then hit Realmuto with a pitch and Atlanta manager Brian Snitker brought in southpaw Will Smith with Herrera. Herrera hosted Smith with a double on the first pitch to score two.

The Phils turned around in the eighth when Nick Castellanos doubled home Bryce Harper. Castellanos’ brace was only his second extra hit in 12 games, so there was another easing drought.

The four runs must have seemed like a blast to Nola, who entered the game with 64 strikeouts, the second-most in the NL, and a WHIP of .994, but the ninth-worst running support in the league. The Phillies had scored no points as Nola was in the game in four of his nine starts entering the contest.

“He’s been the victim of bad luck probably as much as any pitcher we have,” Girardi said.

Not all of Nola’s problems this season were due to a lack of running support. Errors on the plate and an inability to keep batters away with two strikes and two outs have been a bugaboo since last season and it was on his previous outing against the Dodgers when he gave up three runs from two outs on a circuit and a two-run double. Both hits came on complete pitches.

If Nola made any mistakes on Thursday night, they were hard to decipher and even harder for the Braves to hit. He used his lead and curve ball very effectively. He generated 15 swings and misses, 10 on his curve ball.

“The lead felt good, better than usual,” Nola said. “Curveball got better as the game went on.”

“I can’t say enough about the way he kicked the ball,” Realmuto said. “He had early takedowns, he kept the ball on the ground and let the pen rest. He really had his lead on, off the plate and sending it back to the right-handers.

As for the long stretch between wins, Nola said, “That’s baseball. It will happen. I just want to go deep, save the bullpen and put in as many zeros as possible, and whatever happens, happens.

What happened Thursday night was that Nola had a shutout in the ninth and gave the Phillies a big win. He left the game at 109 after giving up a one-out double to Matt Olson in the ninth. Olson eventually scored on a wild pitch through Corey Knebel, who got the final two outs to lock in the win.

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