Nola sparkles up until his 117th pitch

August 22nd, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- What had been a bounce-back outing for during a rough August took a turn on Saturday night at Petco Park.

Nola, who had a 6.08 ERA in his three previous August starts, was electric in the Phillies’ 4-3 loss in 10 innings against the Padres at Petco Park. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning.

Nola got within an out of a complete-game win but gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Jake Cronenworth with two outs in the ninth.

“Nola was so good,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “You could probably say he just made maybe one mistake all night. That's how good he was tonight, and it's really unfortunate because he gave us everything he had."

Nola’s perfect game bid ended when leadoff batter Trent Grisham reached base on a fielding error by first baseman Brad Miller. Nola’s no-hit bid was broken up after 6 1/3 innings when Manny Machado singled home Grisham.

On a night when Nola collected 11 strikeouts and looked as sharp as he has in a while, it was his 117th and final pitch that came back to haunt the Phillies.

“We talked to him, and he felt great,” Girardi said of the decision to let Nola pitch the ninth inning. “As well as he was throwing and as taxed as our bullpen was last night, I just felt like he would give us the best chance right there.”

The game was decided on a wild pitch in the 10th inning from Connor Brogdon. That allowed Adam Frazier to score the game-winning run.

Nola said the loss was “heartbreaking” after his mistake to Cronenworth.

“I didn't get the ball in enough. I tried to go hard over the plate,” he said.

Nola looked untouchable at times. He completed the first inning with just seven pitches. After Cronenworth hit a popup to lead off the second inning, Nola proceeded to strike out seven Padres hitters in a row until Machado lined out to end the fourth inning.

"I didn't even realize it was seven [strikeouts] in a row," Nola said. “... I was just trying to make pitches and get ahead in the count.”

Through his first six innings, Nola used 63 pitches to retire the Padres in order before Grisham reached base on Miller’s error.

Nola flashed some of his most electric stuff against the Padres. He threw his two hardest pitches of the season -- a 95.9 mph fastball and a 96.2 mph heater -- to strike out his older brother, Padres catcher Austin Nola, in their first big league encounter.

The 96.2 mph fastball was the third-fastest pitch the right-hander has thrown in his career.

The Phillies fell five games back of the National League East lead. They held a two-game division lead over the Braves on Aug. 8.

“We got to take it game by game,” Nola said. “Go out and win a series tomorrow. Obviously, the gap’s gotten bigger pretty quick, but we can't let that get in our heads. We got to play our game.”