SAN DIEGO -- Zach Eflin toed the rubber at Petco Park on Friday night, prepared to square off against the team that drafted him with the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He spent a year in the Padres' organization, before being traded to the Dodgers in December 2014, then was sent to Philadelphia one day later to complete the Dodgers' deal for Jimmy Rollins.
However, a lack of run support and more runners left on base than hits collected doomed Eflin and the Phillies, as they dropped the first of three games to the Padres, 2-0. It was the second straight shutout loss for the Phillies, who fell into a tie for first place in the National League East with the Braves, thanks to Atlanta's 10-1 win against the Brewers.
"I probably had a little more butterflies than normal, just because I know a lot of guys on the team now and that's the team that drafted me and gave me a chance," Eflin said. "Being able to compete against those guys was really fun. I've been looking forward to this day ever since I got traded, so it was fun to finally make it happen."
Whatever nerves Eflin had, he hardly showed it, fanning eight Friars and allowing just two runs through six innings. His offense wasn't able to back him up, however. The Phillies had opportunities, but stranded 10 runners.
"Sometimes you go through stretches like this," Rhys Hoskins said. "It happened I think in early June, obviously you hope to limit them, but it's the game of baseball, man. These things happen. We're having pretty good at-bats. The results just aren't there."
The Phillies couldn't find an answer for Padres rookie Jacob Nix, who excelled in his Major League debut, tossing six scoreless frames and scattering four hits. He retired 13 of his last 14 batters and struck out four.
"I see it more as kind of the ebbs and the flows of a Major League Baseball season from an offensive perspective," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I have said that a lot. ... Sometimes we see three or four games in a row where we have trouble driving in runs. We have trouble hitting with runners in scoring position. We have trouble getting rallies going and having big innings. Then we see stretches where we do. So I just don't want to get too caught up in a three-, four-, five-game stretch."
Eflin maneuvered his way through the Padres lineup with ease, but ran into trouble with Austin Hedges, who was drafted by the Padres one year before Eflin, but never played in the Minor Leagues with him. Hedges tagged Eflin for two hits, including a home run.
Eflin gave up a single to Hedges in the second, and former Phillie Freddy Galvis singled Hedges in two batters later. Hedges got the upper hand once more in the fourth, this time for his ninth home run on the season.
"That was probably the most upsetting pitch I had," Eflin said. "I took a little bit off of it because I kind of wanted to put it exactly where I wanted it, instead of just bringing it back and firing it. That one kind of punched me in the gut."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can't capitalize in the crunch: The scoring opportunities for Philadelphia were far from scarce. Their best chance to score came early in the first, when they loaded the bases against Nix, who was facing the heart of an order in the first inning of his career. Nick Williams and Asdrubal Cabrera sandwiched singles around Carlos Santana's walk, but Odubel Herrera softly tapped a groundout to second base to end the threat.
The Phils posed another threat in the ninth inning, when Herrera and Maikel Franco led off the inning with singles off Padres closer Kirby Yates. Yates struck out the next two batters, however, and Cesar Hernandez tapped a roller back to Yates for the final out of the game.
"We did have him [Nix] on the ropes and we let him off the hook," Kapler said. "We can do a better job of stepping on guys when we have the opportunity to."
HE SAID IT
"They're doing their job. They really are. We can't ask for more from any of the arms, bullpen included. Starters have been outstanding, like they've been all year. The bullpen's been strong. We can't complain about that as a team." -- Hoskins
Aaron Nola (12-3, 2.37 ERA) will take the hill against San Diego's Walker Lockett on Saturday. Nola is coming off a no-decision against Miami, in which he tossed six frames and allowed two earned runs on seven hits. Nola has yet to face the Padres this season, but is 1-2 lifetime against the club with a 3.21 ERA over four starts. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PT.