Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Padres 5

slideshow-phillies-carlos-ruiz-ap.jpg

Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Padres 5

BOX SCORE

A big first inning was all the offense the Phillies needed in Thursday night’s 10-5 victory, though it wasn’t enough to get a win for Roy Halladay.

The Phillies scored six runs in the first inning, added a run in the third and got a couple more in the fifth to roll to their fifth win in the last six games while taking the series from San Diego. But after four solid innings, Halladay could not get through the fifth.

Halladay walked four batters in a row for the first time in his career and committed a throwing error in the four-run fourth inning as the Phillies’ lead was reduced to two.

However, Halladay’s battery mate, Carlos Ruiz, went 3 for 3 with a double, walk and three RBIs to lead the offense.

The win pushes the Phillies to 68-78, 20 games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East.

Starting pitching report
Halladay allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits, five walks and one hit batsman. He gave up a leadoff homer in the first to Will Venable and needed 101 pitches to go 4 1/3 innings.

Halladay’s outing went much better than that of Padres’ starter Tyson Ross. With one pitch to make or break the first inning, Ross gave up a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch to Halladay. So instead of striking out the side, Ross was knocked out after just two-thirds of an inning.

The Phillies tagged Ross (3-8, 3.29) for six runs on five hits and a pair of walks.

Bullpen report
Justin De Fratus finished the fifth for Halladay by retiring both of the hitters he faced. Cesar Jimenez followed with a perfect, eight-pitch sixth inning before Ethan Martin made his second relief outing with a 1-2-3 seventh.

B.J. Rosenberg needed just five pitches to get through the eighth inning. Jake Diekman finished it out with a hitless ninth.

The Padres used seven pitchers.

At the plate
Cesar Hernandez had his third three-hit game in the big leagues to go with a double and a pair of RBIs.

Jimmy Rollins, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis also had multi-hit games while the Phillies hitters drew eight walks.

The Padres didn’t get a hit after the fifth inning.

Brown improving
All-Star Dom Brown hasn’t started a game since Aug. 30 and has not appeared in a game since Sept. 1, but manager Ryne Sandberg says he expects the outfielder to be back soon.

Just probably not this weekend.

Sandberg said it would be “premature” to expect an appearance from Brown this weekend while he recovers from a sore Achilles.

Up next
The Phillies open a weekend series in Washington on Friday night at Nationals Park. The expected pitching matchups for the series are:

Friday: Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.51) vs. Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96)

Saturday: Cole Hamels (7-13, 3.45) vs. Gio Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31)

Sunday: Tyler Cloyd (2-4, 4.56) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (17-8, 3.36).

Best of MLB: Cardinals erupt for 9 runs during 8th inning of comeback

uspresswire-cardinals-paul-dejong.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Cardinals erupt for 9 runs during 8th inning of comeback

CHICAGO -- Paul DeJong hit a tiebreaking two-run double in St. Louis' nine-run eighth inning, and the Cardinals cooled off the Chicago Cubs with an 11-4 victory on Friday.

Chicago carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth, looking for its seventh consecutive win. But St. Louis sent 14 batters to the plate in its highest-scoring inning of the season, taking advantage of a combined six walks by three relievers while improving to 4-4 since the All-Star break.

Carl Edwards Jr. (3-2) was pulled after the first three batters reached. Hector Rondon then walked Jedd Gyorko, tying it at 3, and DeJong followed with a drive into the ivy in right-center for a ground-rule double. The Cardinals were off and running from there.

Matt Bowman (2-3) got the final out of the seventh for the win.

The Cubs played without third baseman Kris Bryant, who sprained his left little finger on a headfirst slide on Wednesday. X-rays were negative, but Bryant is experiencing soreness and there is some concern about gripping a bat (see full recap).

Andrus' hustle gives Rangers win in 10th inning
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Elvis Andrus homered early, and then snapped a 10th-inning tie with a two-out infield single that gave the struggling Texas Rangers a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

Andrus, who homered in the first inning, hit a sharp grounder off Brad Boxberger (2-1) that forced Evan Longoria to make a diving stop. Pinch runner Delino Shields scored when the third baseman to was unable to complete the throw to first base.

Alex Claudio (2-0) pitched two innings in relief of Yu Darvish to get the win. The left-hander gave up a leadoff single to Steven Souza Jr. in the 10th, but avoided further damage by getting Adeiny Hechavarria to bunt into a double play and Mallex Smith to fly out.

Texas ended a five-game losing streak.

Rays starter Alex Cobb took a three-hitter and a 3-1 lead into the ninth, but couldn't finish off the Rangers, who erased their deficit with Joey Gallo's double and Shin-Soo Choo's 14th homer within a three-pitch span (see full recap).

Encarnacion powers Indians past former team
CLEVELAND -- Edwin Encarnacion homered and drove in four runs against his former team, and the Cleveland Indians broke open a close game with an eight-run seventh inning to rout the Toronto Blue Jays 13-3 on Friday night.

Encarnacion, who played the last six seasons with Toronto before signing a three-year, $60 million contract with Cleveland in January, hit a leadoff home run in the second, broke a 3-all tie in the fifth with a two-run double and added an RBI single in the seventh.

Encarnacion was 3 for 4 with a walk and nearly added to his total later in the seventh, but center fielder Kevin Pillar tracked down his fly ball on the warning track with two runners on.

Abraham Almonte hit a three-run homer and rookie Bradley Zimmer added a two-run single in the seventh as the Indians won for just the second time in eight games (see full recap).

With evolving changeup and 4-pitch mix, Aaron Nola raising his own ceiling

With evolving changeup and 4-pitch mix, Aaron Nola raising his own ceiling

BOX SCORE

Once upon a time, Cole Hamels was a two-pitch pitcher: fastball and changeup. The changeup was so good so consistently that it didn't matter that Hamels' curveball command was often shaky. Two very good pitches were enough.

It wasn't until Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay arrived that Hamels began incorporating a fourth pitch, the cutter, and along the way, his curveball command improved substantially. Suddenly, a two-pitch lefty had a legitimate four-pitch mix and it took him to another level.

Watching Aaron Nola dominate the Brewers in Friday night's 6-1 Phillies win (see Instant Replay), Hamels' evolution came to mind. Nola allowed one run and struck out nine over seven innings, at one point whiffing eight of nine Brewers. And he did with a four-pitch mix that included 31 sinkers, 27 fastballs, 20 changeups and 18 curveballs.

It's no longer sinker-curveball only with Nola. He's now giving his opponents more to worry about in the form of additional velocity on the fastball and a changeup that is becoming a money pitch.

"Nola was outstanding. He's been working on that changeup all year and it's really one of his better pitches right now," manager Pete Mackanin said. 

With a four-seam fastball that has been maxing out at 95 mph lately, a curveball that buckles hitters from both sides of the plate, a sinker with wicked two-seam movement and a changeup that he's beginning to feel comfortable throwing to righties and lefties alike, Nola may be making his jump to the next level before our very eyes.

"No question about it," Mackanin said. "That changeup, he threw a ton of them tonight to righties and lefties. I talked to him when we took him out of the game and he was real excited about throwing the changeup not just to lefties but to right-handers as well. If he can do that with the rest of the arsenal that he has, I expect a real good performance from him every time out."

The win made Nola 7-6 with a 3.38 ERA, which essentially means he's given up three runs every eight innings. Any team will take that from a starting pitcher. 

Over his last six starts, Nola has been lights-out — 1.70 ERA, .190 opponents' batting average, 50 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Perhaps most impressively, he's held his opponents to a .118 batting average with runners in scoring position, second in the National League over that span to only Clayton Kershaw.

"My changeup ... I'm feeling consistent with it right now," Nola said. "It's evolved. I really didn't have much of a feel for my changeup [when I first came up]. It's a thing I worked on in spring training a lot this year, threw it in counts when I usually wouldn't. That's what spring training is for and I think it helped."

The changeup is a feel pitch and its success is usually dictated by the pitcher's arm angle and speed. If he throws it the same way he throws a fastball, that's where the deception of the slower speed comes into play. Nola has worked hard on those aspects of the pitch and it's clearly paying off.

Nola induced 15 swinging strikes on the night, six of them on changeups and five on curveballs. His strikeout numbers stand out because he was not billed as this kind of pitcher when he was drafted or was coming up through the Phillies' system. In the minor leagues, Nola struck out 7.6 batters per nine innings. In the majors, he's struck out 277 in 275 innings (9.1 per nine).

"I'm real happy about the way he's come along, especially after the elbow issues," Mackanin said. "He has increased velocity. His pitches are crisper. He's better now than before. It's really a nice jump for him to make."

Indeed it is. Perhaps Nola's ceiling is higher than No. 2 starter.