June 5, 2023

Phillies lose in heartbreaking fashion, Aaron Nola suffers game-tying homer with 2 outs in 9th


AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Aaron Nola bullied with theSan Diego Padres for mostly the whole game, finding himself one out away from a complete game that would have given the Phillies their second straight win in San Diego after three brutal losses in Arizona.

But his 117th pitch of the night — which matched a career-high — was taken deep by Jake Cronenworth for a two-out, two-run, game-tying home run in the ninth.

The Padres won it in the 10th inning on a wild pitch by Connor Brogdon.

This was a costly loss for the 62-61 Phillies. The first-place Atlanta Braves won their eighth in a row, pushing the Phils to five games out in the division. The Phillies also trail by five games in the wild-card race to the Cincinnati Reds and Padres. They are 3-8 since their eight-game winning streak, ranking last in the majors in batting average and slugging percentage over that span and last in the National League in runs scored.

Nola was still in the game with such a high pitch count because he had pitched masterfully for eight innings and because the Phillies used all three of Ian Kennedy, Archie Bradley, and Hector Neris for more than an inning Friday.

Nola opened the ninth with a strikeout, his 11th of the night, before walking Fernando Tatis Jr. and getting a quick lineout from Manny Machado. 

Kennedy was loose in the bullpen but Nola, who had just one high-stress inning all night, had also earned the right to finish the job. No matter who allowed the tying run, manager Joe Girardi’s decision would have been second-guessed.

Nola’s night began with six perfect innings. His velocity was up, his two-seam fastball danced and froze Padres left-handed hitters on the inside corner, and he commanded both his curveball and changeup. He has not had all four pitches working on the same night many times this season, but he did Saturday. His four-seam fastball was up from 92.5 mph to 94.1, and his two-seam fastball was also up one mph, but it was the movement and command that stood out.

Nola did not allow a baserunner until Brad Miller committed an error at first base to open the seventh inning. The Phillies led by one at the time. The play was not easy but a major-league first baseman has to make it. Miller had to move a few steps to his right and the ball nicked off his glove into shallow right field. Miller has hit for power this season but has played poorly in the field and he’s been pressed into duty more than usual with Rhys Hoskins still on the injured list by a groin injury.

The Padres scored later in the seventh on Machado’s RBI single but the run was unearned and Nola stranded him at second.

Nola led off the bottom of the seventh with an opposite-field double and came around to score when Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Two different Padres relievers hit a Phillie with a pitch full in the inning as they took a 3-1 lead. 

Their first run came on a leadoff homer by Odubel Herrera, who exited in the ninth inning with an apparent injury.

The Phillies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and had four hits: Herrera’s homer, Nola’s double, and two from Bryce Harper. Andrew McCutchen had a horrible night at the plate, going 0 for 5 with five strikeouts and stranding seven runners. 

The Phillies try for a series win Sunday afternoon. Kyle Gibson, who has made a quality start in all three starts as a Phillie, is on the mound. The Padres are still yet to announce a starter.

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