Nola helps Phillies take down Braves
ATLANTA -- The Phillies' future looks a little brighter just about every time Aaron Nola has pitched this season.
The rookie pitched seven scoreless innings in Tuesday night's 5-0 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Nola allowed just six hits, one walk and struck out seven to improve to 6-2 with a 3.56 ERA in 10 starts since his promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It is safe to say he is a heavy favorite to be in the 2016 rotation.
"Nola was outstanding," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He located his fastball, kept them off-balance, and made some great pitches."
Braves right-hander Ryan Weber did a nice job in his big league debut. He allowed four hits, two runs, one walk and struck out two in six innings, but Nola kept the Braves' offense in check the entire night.
The Braves are now just one game ahead of the Phillies in the battle against having Major League Baseball's worst record.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nola bounces back: Nola suffered the worst start of his brief career last week in New York, where he allowed six earned runs in four innings against the Mets, but he rebounded nicely against the Braves. The only question is how much more the Phillies will see him this year? He has pitched 170 innings this season, including 109 1/3 innings in the Minor Leagues. The Phillies have said Nola will be limited to about 185-190 innings, which means he has about 15-20 innings to work with in his final three scheduled starts.
"Took a day or so to get over," Nola said about his start against the Mets. "Even though we didn't come out with a win that night, I still felt good and my body and arm still felt good. So that's what I brought into tonight." More >
Expectations exceeded: Given that he was one of the only logical candidates to never get a previous promotion from Triple-A Gwinnett this year, there didn't seem to be much reason to be optimistic about Weber's debut. But the 25-year-old right-hander faced the minimum through the first three innings and minimized damage after he allowed extra-base hits to begin the fourth and fifth innings. He induced 11 groundouts, including a pair of double plays.
"When [Weber] was on the mound, he didn't seem nervous or anything," Braves outfielder Michael Bourn said. "There aren't a lot of fans here neither. So, you've got to wait to see when he gets into a full park." More >
Herrera leads the way: Phillies rookie Odubel Herrera played a part in four of the Phillies' five runs. He singled to move Cesar Hernandez to third in the fourth inning. Hernandez scored a batter later on a double play to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Herrera then hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning for some insurance runs. Herrera is hitting .364 (75-for-206) in his last 56 games, raising his batting average from .243 to .302.
"The three-run homer was huge," Mackanin said. "It allowed us to breathe a little bit."
Squandered opportunity: The Braves were unable to take advantage after putting two on with none out in the third and eighth innings. Luis Garcia quieted the latter threat with a Freddie Freeman strikeout and A.J. Pierzynski groundout. Ken Giles entered and walked Nick Swisher before retiring Jace Peterson, who is now 9-for-15 with the bases loaded this season. Atlanta went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"We had people on base and we had chances," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We just couldn't get the base hit when we needed to."
"It's nice to come in here and smile for a change." -- Mackanin, in the Phillies' press conference room, referring to the Phillies' fourth victory in their last 15 games.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Weber became the 59th different player and 36th different pitcher used by the Braves this season. Fourteen of those pitchers have made their Major League debut this season.
The Braves have lost 27 of their past 30 road games and they have now been shut out 15 times this season.
Braves: Julio Teheran will take the mound as Atlanta concludes this three-game series against Philadelphia on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Teheran has pitched more effectively over the past month and he has a 1.21 ERA over his past six starts against the Phillies.
Phillies: Right-hander David Buchanan (2-7, 9.00 ERA) rejoins the Phillies' rotation. He is the sixth man in a six-man rotation, which the Phillies considered necessary to limit the workload of rookie starters Nola, Adam Morgan, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.