PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola said he is not thinking about it, but he almost certainly is headed to his first All-Star Game in a couple of weeks.Not that he needed to pitch well on Thursday night in a 4-3 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park to cinch it,
PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola said he is not thinking about it, but he almost certainly is headed to his first All-Star Game in a couple of weeks.
Not that he needed to pitch well on Thursday night in a 4-3 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park to cinch it, but he did. He allowed five hits, one run and two walks in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out eight, including Bryce Harper three times, and improved to 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA.
Nola is the first Phillies pitcher to have 10 wins before July since Cole Hamels in 2012.
"It's pretty cool," Nola said.
Rhys Hoskins' two-run homer in the seventh proved to be the difference, drawing the game's biggest roar from the crowd. But it was cool to watch Nola battle Harper in four plate appearances. Harper hit .636 (7-for-11) with two home runs, five RBIs, one walk and two strikeouts in Nola's first two seasons in the big leagues. He is hitting .166 (2-for-12) with one walk and five strikeouts against Nola the past two seasons, including a 1-for-4 effort on Thursday.
Nola struck out Harper swinging on a 1-2 curveball in the first inning and looking on a 1-2 fastball in the third inning. Harper singled to left in the sixth, but Nola got him swinging on a 1-2 fastball in the eighth.
"Those battles are fun," Nola said. "I think it's fun for myself, and I think I learn a little bit about myself when I face guys like that."
Nola threw Harper 17 pitches over those four plate appearances. Nine were curveballs. One was a changeup.
"It's extremely fun as a baseball fan to watch that matchup because you can kind of see the chess match happening," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "You can see Nola using the gas pedal and the brake to show Harper that he's got a lot of life on his fastball. He's got a lot of movement on his fastball. He can put it where he wants. So Harper's got to have that in his mind, but then again that changeup can come out at any time and he can spot up the curveball. So it's a lot for an opposing hitter to account for. Yeah, it's definitely fun to watch two heavyweights like that go toe to toe."
Nola said he heard the crowd cheer following Harper's strikeout in the eighth. The Phillies had fewer fans in the ballpark on Thursday after selling out games on Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees.
"It was different tonight," Nola said. "The three games against the Yankees, since I've been here, were the most people I've seen in this stadium. It was loud and pretty electric. But it was definitely a cool atmosphere. I felt toward the end of the game it got louder. It was pretty cool."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seranthony saves the day: The Phillies did not want to use Seranthony Dominguez after he threw 25 pitches on Wednesday. But Kapler needed him after Tommy Hunter allowed a single and an RBI double to start the ninth inning. Dominguez struck out Mark Reynolds swinging and, after allowing a run to score on a wild pitch, he struck out Wilmer Difo looking to end the game. Dominguez has thrown 396 pitches since joined the Phillies on May 7. Only Edubray Ramos (507) and Hector Neris (484) have thrown more in the Phils' bullpen.
"We didn't want to use Seranthony tonight, but that's baseball," Kapler said. "We have a really good plan for how to care for him long term. We feel very confident in our ability to do so and I'm glad that he was able to step up for us."
Hoskins stays hot: Hoskins is hitting .338 (24-for-71) with six doubles, seven homers, 20 RBIs and a 1.133 OPS in 19 games since breaking his jaw on May 28. He went 3-for-4 with one double and one home run on Thursday. He also ate a cheeseburger a couple days ago, his first solid food since breaking his jaw. More>
"Best burger I ever had," Hoskins said.
Carlos Santana has walked 26 times this month. No Phillies player has walked more in June since Bobby Abreu (26) in 2004. Greg Luzinski walked a franchise-record 28 times in June 1980.
HE SAID IT
"I actually thought he got stronger as he inched towards the end of the game. Even there in the last inning, somewhere around that 105-pitch mark, it almost seemed like he was getting sharper." -- Kapler, on Nola
Phillies right-hander Pat Neshek (strained right forearm) will make a rehab appearance on Friday night with Double-A Reading. He could be activated from the disabled list before the end of the weekend.
Right-hander Luis Garcia (strained right wrist) threw a bullpen session on Thursday. He will throw at least one more before possibly being activated.
Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (nerve issue in fingers) also threw a bullpen session. He will continue his rehab in Clearwater, Fla.
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.06 ERA) will square off against Nationals righty Erick Fedde (0-3, 5.32) at 7:05 ET on Friday night in the second game of this four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Pivetta has a 2.92 ERA in his past two starts, striking out 20 and walking three in 12 1/3 innings. But he took a no-decision in both games and seeks his first victory since May 21.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.