Instant Replay: Phillies 5, Braves 2

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Instant Replay: Phillies 5, Braves 2

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ATLANTA -- Kyle Kendrick solved his first-inning problems and Ryan Howard homered again as the Phillies made it two straight wins over the Atlanta Braves with a 5-2 victory Tuesday night at Turner Field.

The win ensured the Phillies of being no more than five games out of first place in the NL East at day’s end. They are 31-38 on the season.

Starting pitching report
Kendrick (3-6) allowed two runs over seven innings and none of them came in the first inning. He had been tagged for 13 earned runs in the first inning over his first 13 starts and opposing batters were hitting .393 in the frame.

Kendrick opened this start with two three-pitch strikeouts. He allowed a two-out double in the first but pitched out of trouble.

Kendrick struck out six and walked just one. He is 8-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 22 career games (16 starts) against Atlanta.

Ervin Santana (5-4) gave up eight hits and four runs (three earned) over six innings. Half of the hits he allowed were for extra bases.

Santana beat the Phillies in April in Philadelphia. He pitched six innings of one-run ball in that game and struck out 11.

Bullpen report
The Phillies’ bullpen continued to shine with Jake Diekman and Jonathan Papelbon combining on two scoreless innings. Papelbon picked up his 16th save one night after blowing the save in the Phillies’ 13-inning win. The bullpen allowed just one run in six innings in that game.

Papelbon needed just seven pitches for the save. He threw 28 in getting three outs the night before.

The Phils’ bullpen has a 2.53 ERA in the last 33 games. The bullpen’s ERA was 4.95 over the first 36 games of the season.

At the plate
Howard homered for the second straight night. This time, he gave the Phils a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first inning. His 13th homer scored Jimmy Rollins, who had doubled to increase his hitting streak to 12 games.

Cesar Hernandez singled home Reid Brignac in the fourth. Brignac had two hits and he continues to give the Phillies’ offense a lift at third base.

Howard has 46 homers and 126 RBIs in 143 career games against the Braves.

Lineup notes
Chase Utley, whose batting average has dropped from .347 to .301 in a month, got a rest. He was not in the starting lineup but walked as a pinch-hitter. “It’s just a day to catch up,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “His bat looks a little sluggish.”

Hernandez started at second base and played well.

Ben Revere banged his knee on the wall making a catch Monday night. That provided Sandberg with the opportunity to use John Mayberry Jr. in center field.

Minor matters
The Phillies signed lefty Matt Imhof, their second-round pick.

First-rounder Aaron Nola threw two innings (28 pitches) and allowed a hit while striking out two in an intrasquad game at the minor-league complex in Clearwater on Tuesday. He is expected to make his pro debut in the next two to three weeks for one of the Phillies’ clubs in Florida.

Up next
The series concludes with a 12:10 p.m. start Wednesday afternoon. Roberto Hernandez (2-5, 4.26) opposes Braves right-hander Aaron Harang (5-5, 3.20).

Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco lead Phillies to road win over Mariners

Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco lead Phillies to road win over Mariners

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SEATTLE -- Aaron Nola is a quiet, low-key Southern gentleman. Outward displays of emotion are not his thing.

But Nola made an exception Tuesday night.

After Maikel Franco made the play of the game to get Nola out of a jam in the seventh inning, the pitcher approached the third baseman in the dugout and …

"I gave him a hug," Nola said with a smile.

Franco's glove — and his bat — helped make a winner out of Nola and the Phillies as they rallied to beat the Seattle Mariners, 8-2, at Safeco Field (see Instant Replay).

"The game is about making pitches when they count, getting key hits and making good plays like that to help your pitcher out," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We had a little bit of everything tonight. It was a lot of fun tonight."

Mackanin hasn't been able to say that a lot this season, particularly on the road where the Phillies have now won just 11 times in 42 games.

The Phillies came into this series in Seattle having lost three straight in Arizona and scoring just four runs in those losses. Then they were no-hit over the first four innings Tuesday night by Mariners lefty James Paxton.

The Mariners led 2-0 thanks to a two-run homer by Jean Segura against Nola in the third. Franco led off the fifth with the Phillies' first hit, a double to right against Paxton, and that started a game-tying, two-run rally that featured two hits, a walk and two sacrifice flies.

The game turned for good in the seventh inning. Franco led off the frame with a solo home run — reliever Luis Garcia, one of Franco's best pals, caught the ball in his cap in the bullpen — to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.

Nola survived a couple of jams early in the game then faced another big one in the bottom seventh inning. He gave up a pair of one-out singles before striking out Mike Zunino for the second out in the seventh. The strikeout, Nola's ninth of the game, came on his 112th pitch, the most of his career, and Mackanin quickly popped out of the dugout and walked briskly to the mound. Segura, who had taken Nola deep in the third inning, was due up. Was Mackanin going to take Nola out?

No.

"I just wanted to let him know that this was his game," Mackanin said. "He pitched so well up to that point, I wanted him to know it was his game, finish it for us."

Nola thought there was a chance Mackanin was coming to take him out.

"But once he asked how I felt I knew I wasn't out," Nola said. "I told him I felt good and thought I could finish the inning."

Nola threw one more pitch. Segura hit it hard down the third-base line, but Franco laid out, made a diving stab and threw across the diamond for the third out. If Franco doesn't make the play, the game is tied and Nola doesn't get a win.

That's why Franco got a hug.

"Segura put a pretty decent swing on that curveball and Mikey made a heck of a play," Nola said. "He also hit a big home run. It was a good team win."

Franco might have the bubbliest personality in the clubhouse, but he hasn't had many opportunities to show it. There's been a lot of losing this season and his play has been inconsistent.

But Franco was able to enjoy this one.

"I don't know how I made that play," he said with a laugh. "That's the little things that win ballgames. Bottom of the seventh, two outs. It was a big play and I'm glad for me and I'm glad for Nola. He did a good job."

And how about that hug?

"Oh, yeah," Franco said with a smile. "He said, 'Nice play, that's a sick play.'"

With two important extra-base hits and a game-saving defensive play, Franco once again showed how special he could be if he could add consistency to his game.

"I keep waiting for it and it's good to see little by little," Mackanin said. "I'd like to see him do it more often. He's capable of it. We've seen him do it in the past."

The Phillies got some good relief work from Joaquin Benoit then blew the game open in the eighth and ninth innings against the Seattle bullpen. Aaron Altherr hit a two-run homer and Freddy Galvis drove in a pair of runs with a pair of singles.

Galvis voiced his frustration with all the losing on Monday and urged his teammates to show more effort. He backed up his words with three hits.

Timely hitting, clutch defense, good relief work and, of course, and a second straight strong start from Nola.

We haven’t been able to say it often this season, but this was a good win.

"When that starter gives you seven innings, it makes it a little easier," Mackanin said. "Nola made pitches when he had to. He really kept us in the game."

And Franco did the rest.

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Mariners 2

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Mariners 2

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SEATTLE — Aaron Nola pitched well and Maikel Franco came up huge with his bat and his glove in leading the Phillies to an 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners in an interleague game on Tuesday night.

Nola won his second straight start to improve to 5-5.

Franco gave Nola a 3-2 lead with a tiebreaking, leadoff homer in the top of the seventh then preserved the lead with a sensational diving play to end the bottom of the inning.

Freddy Galvis had three singles and drove in two important runs late in the game.

The win was just the Phillies' 11th in 42 games on the road this season. They are 25-51 overall.

Starting pitching report
Nola reached a career-high of 113 pitches over seven gutsy innings. He gave up five hits and two runs and got a bunch of big outs with men on base. He walked four and struck out nine.

Nola got out of jams with two men on base three times, including in the bottom of the seventh when he preserved a one-run lead by striking out Mike Zunino and getting Jean Segura on a groundball to third. Franco made a tremendous diving play on the ball to end the inning and prevent the tying run from scoring.

Nola has won two straight starts. He has pitched 14 1/3 innings over that span, allowed just three runs and racked up 17 strikeouts.

Lefty James Paxton did not give up a hit until the fifth inning. He allowed three runs in seven innings of work. He gave up Franco's go-ahead homer.

Bullpen report
Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless eighth inning to preserve a two-run lead.

The Seattle bullpen allowed five runs in two innings.

At the plate
Franco ignited a game-tying, two-run rally in the top of the fifth. He led off that inning with a double, the Phillies' first hit. Cameron Perkins followed with an infield hit and Cameron Rupp drew a walk. The Phillies then scored a pair of runs on consecutive sacrifice fly balls by Ty Kelly and Daniel Nava. Galvis followed with a single and third base coach Juan Samuel got a little too aggressive in sending Rupp from second base. Rupp was cut down at the plate.

Franco's go-ahead homer in the seventh was his 10th of the season. Galvis pushed home an insurance run in the eighth. He followed Nava's leadoff double with an RBI single. Galvis drove home another run with a hit in the top of the ninth and Aaron Altherr put it out of reach with a two-run homer, his 13th of the season.

Segura smacked a two-run homer in the third to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.

In the field
Franco made a diving stab on Segura's smash down the third-base line to end the seventh inning and keep the Phils up by a run.

A night off
Odubel Herrera, he of several recent miscues and lapses in concentration, did not start Tuesday night. Manager Pete Mackanin said it was a night off, not a benching. Herrera said he has to start playing smarter baseball (see story).

Health check
Jerad Eickhoff, on the disabled list with an upper-back strain, will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. That will help determine if he's ready to return in the coming days.

Up next
The two-game series concludes on Wednesday afternoon. Rookie right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. (1-0, 3.60) pitches against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (3-2, 4.68). Leiter pitched six scoreless innings in his first big-league start Friday in Arizona.