LOS ANGELES - Yes, the Phillies had a little luck on their side Thursday. They also had the right arms of Aaron Nola and Seranthony Dominguez, some timely hitting from Scott Kingery and Jorge Alfaro, and some standout defense going for them.
It all added up to one of their most satisfying victories of the season, a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers that earned them a spilt of a four-game series as they headed to San Francisco for the second stop of a three-city, 10-game trip (see first take).
"Going 2-2 at Dodger Stadium against a team that's playing well feels a lot better than losing three out of four," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It's a much different flight to San Francisco. It feels really good to go into San Francisco having split here."
Nola (7-2) outpitched Clayton Kershaw in a marquee matchup and lowered his ERA to 2.18 in 12 starts. Nola gave up just a run and two hits over seven innings and left with a one-run lead thanks to Kingery and Alfaro. They teamed for a pair of two-out hits in the top of the seventh to break a 1-1 tie.
Coming to the ballpark, Kapler knew he was sitting on some dynamite if he had a lead in the late innings. Dominguez hadn't pitched in two days and was well rested. Kapler went to his new weapon with a one-run lead in the eighth and the rookie fireballer added to his legend with six outs and the save. He benefited from defensive gems from Kingery and rightfielder Aaron Altherr. Dominguez has now pitched 13 2/3 innings scoreless innings since coming to the majors. He has allowed just two hits. He has registered 15 strikeouts and walked none.
"Seranthony was electric to say the least," Kapler said. "Three weeks ago he was at Lehigh Valley and now he's in Dodger Stadium with a one-run lead picking up a two-inning save. Very impressive."
Third baseman Maikel Franco weighed in on his fellow Dominican.
"It's crazy, man," Franco said. "Unhittable."
Nola offered his take, as well.
"As electric as it gets," he said of Dominguez. "Coming up from the minor leagues and stepping in that role. He throws strikes. He has three pitches and throws them all for strikes. He throws 97-100. He's sharp to me."
Alfaro had two big, two-out hits, a go-ahead double in the seventh and an RBI single in the second inning. The first hit scored Franco - technically, at least. Franco did not slide on the play. He sidestepped a tag from Yasmani Grandal and ended up missing home plate (see video). Umpire Will Little did not notice that Franco did not touch the plate and neither did the Dodgers. Franco knew his mistake but kept going to the dugout because he didn't want to look guilty. Play resumed. The run counted.
So the Phillies were both lucky and good on Thursday.
They are 31-23. The month of May killed this team last year. The Phils went 6-22 in that month. They are a different team now, better and more talented. They finished this May at 15-11. Now they head into a month of June that is loaded with tests such as the Cubs, Brewers, Rockies, Yankees and Nationals. Come out of the month with a passing grade and this team will make people stand up and notice.