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Garcia masterful, but bullpen slips in loss

Offense cools off day after notching 11 hits
Special to MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaime Garcia came off the disabled list and had his best start of the season Saturday against the Phillies.

Unfortunately for the veteran left-hander, it was overshadowed by his opposition on the mound and came in a losing effort. Garcia tossed seven efficient innings, but the Blue Jays' offense was mostly silent against Aaron Nola in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Jaime Garcia came off the disabled list and had his best start of the season Saturday against the Phillies.

Unfortunately for the veteran left-hander, it was overshadowed by his opposition on the mound and came in a losing effort. Garcia tossed seven efficient innings, but the Blue Jays' offense was mostly silent against Aaron Nola in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

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Nola carried a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings, but Garcia kept the Blue Jays in the game. Garcia gave up five hits, and the only run he surrendered came via Maikel Franco's homer in the fifth.

After missing his last start with left shoulder inflammation, Garcia wasn't affected by the layoff and showed no signs of rust. Nick Williams, the Phillies' first batter of the eighth inning, took Joe Biagini deep for the game-deciding run.

"I was able to keep the pitch count low and keep us in the ballgame," Garcia said. " … I felt good enough to compete. I don't pay attention to how I feel. Regardless to what the surroundings are, I try to give us a chance to win and keep us in the ballgame. I thought I did a good job, but we didn't get the W."

The biggest difference for Garcia, in manager John Gibbons' opinion, was his command. Garcia did not walk a batter for the first time in nine starts this season and 52 of his 73 pitches were strikes.

"He looked totally different than he has all year," Gibbons said of Garcia, who averaged 4.9 walks per nine innings entering the game. "He had great command, and that's what was hurting him all year. … That 10 days off looks like it did him wonders."

Garcia exited after seven innings so the Blue Jays could use a pinch-hitter, but he ended up staying in the game longer than Nola. The Phillies right-hander baffled Blue Jays hitters for the first six innings, recording 10 strikeouts and not allowing a ball out of the infield. The Blue Jays -- who were no-hit by James Paxton on May 8 -- finally got to Nola in the seventh.

Russell Martin, who started at shortstop for the first time in his Major League career, had the Blue Jays' first hit of the game. Martin grounded Nola's 113th and final offering through the left side of the infield for an RBI single with two outs. Justin Smoak and Yangervis Solarte drew walks earlier in the inning to get a runner in scoring position.

Video: TOR@PHI: Russell singles to break up Nola's no-hitter

"I really wasn't thinking about the no-hitter more than let's tie this game up," Martin said. "Just tried to battle. He was making tough pitches all night long. I finally got a changeup that was up a little bit and found a hole. I'll definitely take it. We definitely didn't want to get no-hit for the second time this year."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Garcia didn't come out of the game due to a high pitch count or ineffectiveness. He was pulled because his spot in the order came up in the top of the eighth. Playing in a National League park, Gibbons opted to use Kevin Pillar as a pinch-hitter in Garcia's spot. Pillar got a hit, but was erased on Curtis Granderson's double play. The Phillies used Williams, a left-handed pinch-hitter, in a move that paid off against Biagini.

Video: TOR@PHI: Williams hammers go-ahead solo HR in the 8th

"That's the difference between the National League and American League game," Gibbons said. "In the National League, sometimes you're forced to do something, especially that late."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Granderson made his first start of the season in center field. He made a running grab on a fly ball that went 385 feet off Aaron Altherr's bat to end the fourth inning. Granderson had not started in center field since Sept. 29, when he was with the Dodgers.

Video: TOR@PHI: Granderson makes smooth backhanded grab

HE SAID IT
"He'll throw anything at any time. He's got a helluva changeup. He's got a good breaking ball, too. He doesn't give in and he throws it over the plate." -- Gibbons, on Nola

UP NEXT
J.A. Happ will face his former team as the Blue Jays close out a three-game series in Philadelphia at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. Happ -- who is 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in four starts against the Phillies -- debuted with Philadelphia in 2007 and spent parts of four seasons with the team. The Phillies will turn to Nick Pivetta in the series finale.

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jaime Garcia