SAN DIEGO -- With less than two months left in the regular season, the Phillies are aware that each game is crucial as they battle for first place in the National League East.
They also know they have to score runs to win, something they struggled with in their previous two contests, losing shutouts in back-to-back games for the second time this season. But the Phillies came out firing Saturday night against Padres starter Walker Lockett, and rolled to a 5-1 victory at Petco Park.
The Phillies' first win at Petco Park since Aug. 7, 2016, put them back into sole possession of first place in the division, as the Braves lost to the Brewers, 4-2.
Riding a scoreless drought of 19 innings, the Phillies needed only three batters in this one to get on the board. Cesar Hernandez walked to lead off the game and Nick Williams tripled him home two batters later. Williams came around to score, courtesy of Asdrubal Cabrera, who roped his 26th double of the season.
"Any time you're able to jump on the opposition early with a guy like Aaron Nola on the mound it gives you a lot of confidence," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Our guys showed that in the dugout. In fact, I actually thought the energy in the dugout preceded the outcome. I thought that was kind of cool. Our guys were especially energetic going into today's game."
Whatever energy the Phillies brought to the dugout, they made sure to carry it with them throughout the game. They busted out the long ball in the middle innings with Maikel Franco smashing a solo shot in the fourth and Hernandez following suit in the fifth.
Hernandez's homer marked his 10th of the season, setting a single-season career high. Franco's blast traveled a Statcast-projected 383 feet, while Hernandez's was measured at 381 feet. It was Franco's 19th round-tripper of the year, moving him into a tie with Cabrera for second-most on the team. Since June 23, Franco is hitting .327 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs.
"Early on I thought we did a really good job of working counts, like we always do," Kapler added. "We got the big hits tonight. That's probably the biggest difference."
AARON THE ACE
Nola continued his season of dominance, holding the Padres scoreless for six frames. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out five en route to his 13th win -- the second-highest win total in the NL.
It didn't come easy, though. Nola struggled with command early and had to maneuver through a bases-loaded jam in the second.
"It's always good scoring early," Nola said. "We've been in kind of a rut a little bit, but we know what we have and it's just a matter of time until our offense turns around like it did tonight. We have confidence in them, we have confidence in ourselves knowing we're going to score runs."
Nola lowered his ERA to 2.28, tied with Washington's Max Scherzer for second-lowest in the NL, behind the Mets' Jacob deGrom (1.77). Nola's worked at least six innings in 20 of his 24 starts this season and has posted a 1.36 ERA over his last five starts on the road.
"It's definitely time to highlight Nola again," Kapler said. "He did a great job for us and he had to work early on. He had some traffic and some jams to work out of. He did a tremendous job working out of those jams."
HE SAID IT
"I think it's an indication and evidence that our players have developed. That's probably the most notable thing. We were a good team in Spring Training, we felt confident in that, but we also knew that in order for us to have a really good year we were going to have our players take some steps forward. I think we've seen that with a number of our guys." -- Kapler, on the 65-51 Phillies' turnaround from last season, when they went 66-96
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
A Padres threat in the bottom of the ninth was thwarted by a close play. Pinch-hitter Travis Jankowski nearly beat out a fielder's choice, but was called out. The Padres challenged the call, but it was confirmed.
Jacob Arrieta will face off against Padres rookie Joey Lucchesi in the final contest of the three-game series in San Diego. In his last outing, Arrieta pitched eight scoreless innings against the D-backs, but was saddled with a no-decision. One of his shortest starts of the season came against the Padres on July 20, when he was tagged for five runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. ET.