PHILADELPHIA -- Make it a six-pack of losses for the Brewers, who are mired in their longest skid of the season after a 6-1 loss to Aaron Nola and the Phillies on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
Nola delivered his sixth straight quality start -- and second in a row against Milwaukee -- while matching his season high with nine strikeouts. Nola allowed one run on five hits in seven innings, including a stretch from the third inning to the sixth in which he retired nine in a row, eight via strikeouts.
"It feels pretty good," Nola said of his hot streak. "But I think team wins feel better. It feels good winning these ballgames, and the past couple series we've played pretty good baseball. We've hit and played defense pretty well and pitched pretty well."
Freddy Galvis gave the Phillies a first-inning lead with a two-run home run against Brewers starter Matt Garza, who allowed only two other hits and no further runs while throwing 90 pitches in five innings before the game got away from Milwaukee's bullpen. The Brewers still lead the National League Central by one game over the Cubs, but after Chicago's bullpen suffered a late letdown of its own earlier Friday, Milwaukee missed a chance to extend its division lead for the first time since July 8.
Milwaukee's only run against Nola came on Brett Phillips' solo home run in the second inning. Including an 0-for-4 on Friday, the Brewers have six hits in their last 50 at-bats (.120) with runners in scoring position since their eight-run second inning against the Phillies in the first game out of the All-Star break.
"We got beat good tonight," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "We just have to keep at it. We have to keep at it. There's another test tomorrow, and there's a test the following day. Plenty of more tests to come -- and to pass."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Galvis gets it going: Whatever Brewers second baseman Jonathan Villar said to Garza when he visited the mound with Galvis in a 3-1 count and a runner aboard in the bottom of the first inning, it didn't have the intended effect. Garza split home plate with a fastball and Galvis hit it to the seats in right field for a 2-0 Phillies lead and the start of Galvis' three-RBI night.
"I knew Cesar Hernandez was running, so I tried to get a good pitch to hit," Galvis said. "I tried to hit it to right field, and I hit it well."
Breathing room: Nola and the Phillies nursed a one-run lead from the second inning into the sixth, when Counsell tapped his bullpen and saw Philadelphia bat around to score four insurance runs. Carlos Torres took over for Garza and retired only one of the seven batters he faced (Nola, on a strikeout). Tommy Joseph's two-run double was the big blow, and after Torres walked Hernandez with the bases loaded to force in a run, Rob Scahill took over and surrendered Galvis' sacrifice fly.
"If I control my innings a little bit better, maybe I could have been out there in the sixth and out for the seventh," Garza said. "I kind of put this on the team today with so many pitches early."
"I think Garza is just my good luck charm. But no, it's one of those things, I'm making the most of the opportunity when I'm up here. This is the stuff I have to do if I want to stay, and I know that. -- Phillips, whose two Major League home runs have each come in Garza starts against the Phillies
"No question about it. I talked to him when we took him out and he was real excited about throwing the changeup, not just to lefties, but to right-handers as well. When he can do that with the rest of his arsenal, I expect a real good performance from him every time he goes out." -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, on Nola's changeup taking him to the next level as a big league starter
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Phillies right-hander Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He has opened the season with 22 consecutive scoreless appearances at home. Since 1913, no Phillies reliever has started a season with a longer streak.
NAVA TWEAKS HAMMY
Phillies left fielder Daniel Nava left the game in the seventh inning because of a slight hamstring strain, Mackanin said. Nava, who is day to day, is a candidate to be traded this month, although most believe he is more likely to be traded before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline.
Brewers: Quick-working left-hander Brent Suter will face the Phillies for the first time in his career when the series continues at 6:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Brewers expect to have left fielder Ryan Braun back in the lineup after he missed three straight starts with a sore right wrist.
Phillies: Could this be Jeremy Hellickson's final start for the Phillies? Hellickson (6-5, 4.44 ERA) faces the Brewers on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. He could be traded before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He will be a free agent after the season and it is unlikely he returns. If he is not traded this month., he could clear waivers and be traded next month, too.
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