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 of the 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?
"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 (see story). He backed up his words with three hits.
Timely hitting, clutch defense, good relief work and, of course, 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.