ATLANTA (AP) — Aaron Nola wanted to pitch a complete game but knew he was on a short leash as he walked to the mound to begin the ninth inning.
“I always want to throw a complete game, right?" he said. “But I’m glad the more innings I can throw, the better. The win obviously is huge. It’s definitely more important."
Nola struck out 10 while pitching shutout ball into the ninth for his first victory since opening day, leading the Philadelphia Phillies over the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Thursday night.
J.T. Realmuto homered as the Phillies prevented the World Series champion Braves from posting their first three-game winning streak this season.
Philadelphia had lost each of Nola’s previous eight starts, but he had a 3.69 ERA over that stretch. He did little wrong against the Braves, allowing one run and five hits in 8 1/3 innings.
Nola (2-4) had lost four straight starts at Truist Park and entered with a 6.60 ERA with eight homers allowed over his previous six starts in Atlanta.
“It’s a tough place to play," Nola said. “They’ve got a good team over there, a good fan base, but to come out with a split going to New York is pretty good. We’re tied with Atlanta now (in the NL East)."
Nola has 74 strikeouts, tied for the most in the majors with Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan. Thursday marked the eighth time in his career that he struck out at least 10 and did not issue a walk. He reached double-digit strikeouts for the 23rd time,
“We know facing Nola, if he’s on, he’s rough," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He can locate, speed you up, slow you down, the whole thing. Looking back we had one real good opportunity all night when we had first and third."
Nola struck out Matt Olson with runners on first and third to end the third and retired his next seven batters. Olson doubled with two outs in the sixth before Nola retired Travis d’Arnaud on a grounder.
In the ninth, Nola struck out Austin Riley before giving up a double to Olson that chased him. Nola fell two outs shy of his fourth career complete game, his third career shutout.
Nola threw 75 of 109 pitches for strikes.
“He kept his pitch count really down," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.
Corey Knebel got the final two outs in relief. After retiring d'Arnaud on a grounder, Knebel threw a wild pitch that scored Olson. William Contreras walked, and Adam Duvall struck out to end it.
The Braves lacked two potent bats with injuries sidelining outfielders Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna, and their absences were felt as Atlanta put just five runners in scoring position.
Atlanta fell to 21-24 and is this late into a season without a three-game wnning streak for the first time since 2001.
Kyle Wright (4-3) retired his first six batters before Realmuto connected to put the Philles ahead. It was Realmuto’s third homer and traveled 414 feet.
The Phillies looked as if they would put together a big inning after Realmuto homered. Rhys Hoskins’ single loaded the bases with no out, but Wright escaped the jam by striking out Alec Bohm and getting Bryce Harper to ground into a double play.
Harper, the two-time NL MVP who entered with a .545 average, five homers, nine doubles and 13 RBIs in his prior 10 road games, finished 1 for 4. He singled in the eighth and scored from first on Nick Castellanos’ double to make it 4-0.
Wright retired 14 straight batters before Kyle Schwarber walked and Realmuto was hit by a pitch in the seventh. Wright was charged with three hits and three runs after Will Smith gave up Odúbel Herrera's two-run double in the seventh.
Wright had gone 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in his previous two career starts and one relief appearance against Philadelphia.
Wright has received just 16 total runs of support in his nine starts this season and has never gotten more than three runs to work with in an outing.
“This team is too good not to go on a stretch or a run," he said. “We've got too much talent not to go on a run."
Acuña missed his second straight game with a grade 1 strain in his right quadriceps, but Snitker said he looked good working with the strength and conditioning staff. “That’s a good sign,” Snitker said. “He seems to be moving around nice. I think it’s more about firing up the running.” Snitker added that Acuña will not play on Friday. ... Ozuna was scratched with lower abdominal tightness 45 minutes before the first pitch and was available as a pinch-hitter. Orlando Arcia took Ozuna’s spot in left. Snitker said Ozuna, who was on deck when the game ended, will play on Friday.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The Phillies have now scored at least four runs in 13 consecutive road games, the longest such streak since a 14-game stretch dating to Aug. 30-Sept. 28, 1993.
Braves RHP Ian Anderson (3-3, 4.07 ERA) will face LHP Trevor Rogers (2-5, 5.20) as Atlanta opens a three-game home series against Miami.
Philadelphia opens a three-game series at the New York Mets with RHP Bailey Falter (0-1, 3.75) facing RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.50).
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