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Arrieta shuts down Marlins in dominant win

Righty hurls seven scoreless frames; Franco crushes 13th homer
MLB.com

MIAMI -- If the Phillies want to make the postseason this year, they will need pitching. Sure, they have All-Star Aaron Nola at the top of their rotation, but one dominant starter isn't going to cut it down the stretch.

Jake Arrieta looked like an ace Friday, confirming that after a tumultuous June, he has found a groove in the month of July. The former Cy Young Award winner was stellar, allowing three hits in seven scoreless frames, keeping Miami's hitters off balance all night long and leading Philadelphia to a shutout win at Marlins Park, 2-0.

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MIAMI -- If the Phillies want to make the postseason this year, they will need pitching. Sure, they have All-Star Aaron Nola at the top of their rotation, but one dominant starter isn't going to cut it down the stretch.

Jake Arrieta looked like an ace Friday, confirming that after a tumultuous June, he has found a groove in the month of July. The former Cy Young Award winner was stellar, allowing three hits in seven scoreless frames, keeping Miami's hitters off balance all night long and leading Philadelphia to a shutout win at Marlins Park, 2-0.

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"What an incredible performance," said Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. "Inducing early weak contact, ground ball after ground ball, double play after double play, never gets fazed by a baserunner, you're always a ground ball away from getting out of the inning. I thought he did a tremendous job."

Arrieta struggled in June, losing four out of his five starts. His ERA was 6.66 in 25 2/3 innings. But after a win in Pittsburgh in his last outing, going seven innings and allowing just two runs, it appears the veteran has turned it around.

Video: PHI@MIA: Arrieta strikes out Cooper on a foul tip

"I was able to work quickly, got behind in some counts but was able to make good pitches when necessary to get a couple big double-play balls," Arrieta explained, pointing to his curveball as the catalyst for Friday's dominance. "I kept the ball on the ground, got weak contact."

The right-hander breezed through the Marlins' lineup early, facing the minimum through the first five innings. Cleanup hitter Justin Bour reached to lead off both the second and fifth innings, but Arrieta promptly induced two double plays from Martin Prado -- a roller to short and a chopper to third, respectively.

Arrieta now leads the Majors in ground-ball double plays with 18 on the season. There have been only two other seasons in his career when he has induced more than 10 double plays -- 15 in 2015 and 17 in '16.

In their third city in three days, inching toward the All-Star break, Kapler reiterated just how significant a quality start from Arrieta meant for the Phillies' pitching staff.

"Jake's very aware, he understands what's going on around him," Kapler said. "He knows that our bullpen has been stressed, he knows that we don't have off-days, he knows that we're inching toward the break, and he said, 'You can climb on my back.' I really believe that was what he demonstrated today. He wanted to reassure our team that we could ride him and that we could depend on him, and he was just that stable, strong force for us."

Video: PHI@MIA: Arrieta picks off Maybin at first in the 3rd

Arrieta said he's more than comfortable with taking on the workload necessary to carry this young club through the second half as they seek a playoff berth. If he can build upon Friday's start, with All-Star ace Nola dealing at the top of the rotation, the Phillies find themselves with one of the scariest one-two punches in the league, something that will pay huge dividends down the stretch.

"I'm comfortable in that position. It's good for [Vince Velasquez], [Nick Pivetta], Nola, [Zach Eflin] to see that," Arrieta said, confidently. "We're trying to win this division, and it's a next-man-up kind of thing. It's have a nice outing, let's use that as momentum moving forward and have the next guy carry the torch and pass it to the next guy. That's how the best teams do it. They thrive off their teammates' success. The five of us just want to keep it rolling."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the sixth inning, with Arrieta cruising, the Marlins came just inches away from taking the lead. After a leadoff walk to Cameron Maybin, pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich roped a sinker off the top of the right-field wall, caroming back onto the warning track. Aaron Altherr fielded the ball, fired in to Scott Kingery who delivered a strike to Jorge Alfaro at the plate. Alfaro, in one motion, whipped his glove across his body, tagging the leg of Maybin, who did not slide, for the out.

Video: PHI@MIA: Altherr, Kingery nab Maybin at the dish

"That was the turning point," said Arrieta. "Kept it a 1-0 deficit.

"Everything has to go well, he's gotta play it off the wall well, he's gotta make a nice throw to Kingery. Kingery's gotta make a nice throw to Alfaro, and Alfaro's gotta catch and tag in the same motion. Not an easy play at all, that was huge."

Kingery, the middle-man of the relay, recalled peeking over his shoulder to see where Maybin was on the basepaths before whipping the ball to Alfaro. He said he was surprised at how far from home Maybin was when he received the throw from Altherr and did all he could to give Alfaro a chance at the plate.

"If we could keep that run off the board right there we had a feeling we could win the game," Kingery said. "So, in a close game like that, close plays like that are always big."

Kapler, who moved Altherr to right field and subbed Odubel Herrera into center field defensively (replacing Trevor Plouffe) called the play "impressive all around."

"Nice job from start to finish, good fundamental baseball, excellent arm strength from Kingery and a very powerful tag by Alfaro," Kapler said. "I think that it was just a really good play by Altherr, a really good relay by Scotty and a tremendous tag. I just thought across the board our players did a tremendous job."

Video: PHI@MIA: Altherr on his big hit and clutch defense

SOUND SMART
Altherr's RBI double in the second inning extended Philadelphia's streak of recording an extra-base hit in each of their last 89 contests. It's the longest streak in the Majors and the fourth longest in franchise history.

Video: PHI@MIA: Altherr opens the scoring with an RBI double

HE SAID IT
"What Maikel Franco did off of Brad Ziegler … in particular, it's not just a home run late in the game. It's a home run off a guy that should profile as a guy to beat Franco. Ground ball to the left side, he's going to sink the ball in on your hands. For him to get underneath that… Franco deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the work he's done on his swing. You saw today, some of the outs were in the air, middle of the field, right side. He continues to shine because of the swing adjustments he's made." -- Kapler, on Franco's ninth-inning solo home run (his 13th on the year) to put the Phillies ahead 2-0

Video: PHI@MIA: Franco launches a solo homer to left field

UP NEXT
Aaron Nola takes the hill one final time at 4:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at Marlins Park before heading to the All-Star Game. The right-hander looks to regain the National League lead in victories as he is currently tied at 12 with Nationals starter Max Scherzer. Rookie Trevor Richards, who was roughed up in his only other career start vs. the Phillies, will start for the Marlins.

Max Goodman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Goodman97.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jake Arrieta