LOS ANGELES -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler reiterated his belief Thursday that Aaron Nola is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. Kapler might have one of the best weapons in baseball in his bullpen, too.Nola and Seranthony Dominguez combined for a masterful performance in a 2-1 victory over
LOS ANGELES -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler reiterated his belief Thursday that Aaron Nola is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. Kapler might have one of the best weapons in baseball in his bullpen, too.
Nola and Seranthony Dominguez combined for a masterful performance in a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, giving the Phillies a four-game series split in a nice start to a tough 10-game road trip.
Nola, who is looking like a lock to make his first National League All-Star team, allowed two hits, one run, one walk and struck out seven in seven innings. He has a 2.18 ERA, which is the best mark by a Phillies starter through 12 starts since Roy Halladay (2.03) in 2010. Dominguez, who a month ago had been pitching in Triple-A, pitched two perfect innings in relief to pick up his second career save.
"He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as [Max] Scherzer and [Clayton] Kershaw," Kapler said about Nola. "We're lucky to have Seranthony. Three weeks ago he was at Lehigh Valley and now he's in Dodger Stadium with a one-run lead picking up a two-inning save."
Of course, it helps to be lucky, too. Maikel Franco scored the game's first run in the second inning but never touched home plate. The Dodgers never noticed.
After Los Angeles tied the game in the fifth, Jorge Alfaro doubled to score Scott Kingery in the seventh to hand the Phillies the lead.
Kapler, like most baseball fans, could not wait to watch Nola face Kershaw, although it was Kershaw's first start back from the DL following biceps tendinitis. Kershaw lasted only five innings. The Dodgers then revealed afterward that Kershaw will have an MRI exam on his back.
It did not take the shine off Nola's effort.
"I'm not really facing him," Nola said. "I'm facing the team."
The Dodgers ran up Nola's pitch count and Jesmuel Valentin stood in the on-deck circle when Alfaro doubled to score Kingery in the seventh. Alfaro got thrown out at third base on the play, meaning Nola had the opportunity to stay in the game.
"Right then, I knew I was going to go back out," Nola said.
"It seems likes he's getting stronger the third time through the lineup," Kapler said. "I thought the sixth and seventh innings were his best. His curveball seemed like it was most in control at that point, and his heartbeat just stayed calm and easy. We kept thinking, when is the right time to take him out and go to Seranthony? In my mind, he's in such control, he is so on top of his game right now, he left us no choice but to go through that inning. He rewarded us with an incredible performance."
Dominguez rewarded Kapler, too. Not many rookies have the opportunity to pitch the final two innings in a one-run game at Dodger Stadium. But Dominguez has been that good.
"As electric as it gets," Nola said.
Alfaro had both RBIs. He hit .500 (7 for 14) with five doubles and three RBIs in four games against the Dodgers. He hit .307 with seven doubles, one home run, five RBIs and a .790 OPS in 23 games in May.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Phillies right fielder Aaron Altherr made a great sliding catch into the right-field corner to rob Enrique Hernandez of an extra-base hit in the bottom of the eighth. Altherr had to cover 78 feet in 4.7 seconds to make the play, according to Statcast™. His sprint speed measured 29.2 feet per second. His average sprint speed on the bases is 29.0, which is tied for 35th of more than 400 qualified runners.
"Usually those balls like to tail away toward the line, so I knew I had to run pretty fast to go get it," Altherr said. "Once it was hit, I ran as hard as I could and I was able to catch up to it."
HE SAID IT
"When something happens, they call the video guy right away so I was a little bit surprised. I sat down and I was like, 'They're not showing that play?' And when that happened I was like, 'We got that run.' Crazy." -- Franco, on the Dodgers not appealing or challenging the fact he never touched home plate in the second inning
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies challenged Justin Turner's infield single with one out in the ninth inning, thinking Kingery's throw from the hole just beat him to the bag. First-base umpire Ted Barrett called Turner safe, but the replay official overturned the call. Turner was out for the second out.
After struggling to make that throw on similar plays Tuesday, Kingery said he spent Wednesday and Thursday working on that exact same play.
"That's usually how it goes," Kingery said. "It's just a play that's not practiced much. It's kind of just a reaction play. It's something that doesn't really come up until the game. I hadn't been tested like that before, so when I got tested like that and I didn't make the throw it was in the back of my mind, like all right, what can I do to make that play next time?"
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-3, 3.26 ERA) faces Giants right-hander Chris Stratton (6-3, 4.97) on Friday night (10:15 ET) in the first game of a three-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco. After he allowed six runs in one inning May 4 against the Nationals, Pivetta is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in his past four starts with 32 strikeouts and four walks in 24 innings.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.