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Nola goes 7 strong to lift Phillies over Mariners

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Road wins have been rare for the Phillies this season, but right-hander Aaron Nola shut down the Mariners with seven innings of two-run ball en route to an 8-2 victory in Tuesday's Interleague series opener at Safeco Field.

"It was great to see Nola pitch well, like we've grown accustomed to. He's been pitching really well," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "His ball-to-strike ratio wasn't the greatest, but he just kept nibbling in the right spots. He really kept us in the game. He set a good pace during that game, like he was attacking the hitters. It was great to see."

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SEATTLE -- Road wins have been rare for the Phillies this season, but right-hander Aaron Nola shut down the Mariners with seven innings of two-run ball en route to an 8-2 victory in Tuesday's Interleague series opener at Safeco Field.

"It was great to see Nola pitch well, like we've grown accustomed to. He's been pitching really well," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "His ball-to-strike ratio wasn't the greatest, but he just kept nibbling in the right spots. He really kept us in the game. He set a good pace during that game, like he was attacking the hitters. It was great to see."

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Maikel Franco put Philadelphia ahead with a leadoff homer in the seventh, capping a 2-for-4 night that also included a double and two runs scored. The Phillies put the game away with five runs over the final two innings against Seattle's bullpen, capped by a two-run blast by Aaron Altherr in the ninth, as they improved to 11-31 on the road and 25-51 overall.

Video: PHI@SEA: Franco cranks a solo shot into Garcia's hat

The 24-year-old Nola (5-5) lowered his ERA to 4.13 and threw a career-high 113 pitches. He matched his career high with nine strikeouts, while allowing five hits and four walks.

Franco's stellar offense, defense lead Phils

"I definitely want to go and get over 100 pitches, and never really have the bullpen work too much and go deep into games," Nola said. "I think that's all of our mindsets going into each start, is to go as deep as we can."

Jean Segura's two-run homer in the third gave the Mariners an early lead, but James Paxton lost his third straight decision, as he gave up three runs on four hits over seven frames and fell to 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA. Seattle has lost three in a row, dropping back below .500 at 39-40.

Video: PHI@SEA: Paxton pitches well in the 8-2 loss

"Not a good ballgame for us tonight," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Obviously, Aaron Nola threw the ball really well and had a good curveball going. We had a couple chances in the sixth and seventh to put some numbers up against him. We just didn't get it done in those key at-bats. Give Nola credit. He threw the ball very well."

Looking to return to early form, Paxton goes 7

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Close play, no replay:
The Phillies tied the game at 2 with a pair of sacrifice flies -- by Ty Kelly and Daniel Nava -- in the fifth. But after a throwing error on right fielder Mitch Haniger allowed Cameron Rupp to advance to second on Nava's sac fly, Haniger threw out Rupp trying to score on a base hit by Freddy Galvis. Or did he? The throw home clearly beat Rupp to the plate, but the Phillies catcher reached over the tag by Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, and seemed to slap the plate with his hand before Zunino got him with the glove. But the Phillies didn't ask for a review, and the inning ended with the score tied.

Video: PHI@SEA: Haniger nabs Rupp at the plate

Nola slams the door: Seattle had a chance to do damage in both the sixth and seventh, but Nola maneuvered out of trouble. The Mariners had runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth after a Ben Gamel walk and Robinson Cano single, but Nola struck out Nelson Cruz for the third time and got Kyle Seager to hit into a double play. The Mariners had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Nola struck out Zunino and got Segura on a diving stop by Franco at third.

Video: PHI@SEA: Franco makes a spectacular diving play

QUOTABLE
"That's the best Neris has looked the whole season. We had the big lead, however, his splitter was nasty tonight, and you could see it moving. That was really good to see, hopefully that bodes well for him down the road." -- Mackanin, on Hector Neris striking out the side in the ninth

"He hadn't been out there for five days, but he's got to realize I've got to get him in the game, have to keep him sharp, and you've got to have your edge with you. You can't just go out there and flip the switch. He's learning. He's still a young pitcher. But every time you walk on a big league mound, there are guys in the batter's box that are getting paid to hit, too." -- Servais, after closer Edwin Diaz gave up four runs while recording just two outs in the ninth in a non-save situation

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mariners successfully challenged a safe call at first base on an infield single by Altherr in the second when third baseman Seager barehanded a slow roller and fired to Danny Valencia. The call was overturned, and Altherr was the first out of the inning.

Video: PHI@SEA: Seager nabs Altherr following challenge

WHAT'S NEXT
Phillies: Mark Leiter makes his second career start in Wednesday's finale of the two-game series at Safeco Field at 3:40 p.m. ET. Leiter will hope to replicate the performance of his first Major League start, when the rookie right-hander scattered three hits over six scoreless innings against the D-backs.

Mariners: Felix Hernandez (3-2, 4.68 ERA) makes his second start since coming off the disabled list in Wednesday's 12:40 p.m. PT series finale at Safeco Field, as the Mariners wrap up a nine-game homestand. Hernandez allowed three runs in six innings in a victory over the Astros on Friday, after missing two months with bursitis in his right shoulder.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.

Aaron Nola