A night after the Phillies used six relievers and then a position player to pitch two innings, they got the long and strong performance they needed from their ace.
Aaron Nola dazzled against the White Sox, surrendering just one run on three hits over seven innings in a 3-2 Phillies win.
Nola was supported by solo home runs from Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins on back-to-back pitches in the fourth inning. Both homers traveled 406 feet. Harper's was hit hard enough and high enough that it had third-deck potential before landing midway through the second deck in right field. Hoskins' longball was to dead-center.
Of Harper's 19 home runs, eight have come in Nola's starts.
The Phillies are 58-52. They just passed the two-thirds mark of the season. They're on pace for 85 wins.
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More on Nola
It was not at all surprising to see Nola overpower the White Sox. Teams that are not used to him struggle against him, especially weak, inexperienced offenses like this.
Nola's biggest jam came in his final inning. With one out, a Tim Anderson double put runners on second and third. Nola maneuvered his way out of it when Rhys Hoskins got the runner at the plate on an attempted suicide squeeze, then Nola struck out his 10th and final batter of the night.
The White Sox entered Saturday's game 28th in the majors in runs scored and 27th in OPS. Nola feasted on this blah lineup, allowing just one hit through the first six innings and striking out five consecutive batters at one point in the middle innings.
Nola has a 1.91 ERA over his last nine starts. His opponents have hit .171.
Pivetta just good enough
Nick Pivetta earned the first save of his professional career - in the majors or minors - with two innings in relief of Nola.
These were two big innings, too, given the number of Phillies relievers who were unavailable or who Gabe Kapler wanted to avoid because they had pitched in back-to-back games.
Pivetta allowed an unearned run in the ninth and had runners on first and third with two outs when he ended the game by striking out Adam Engel in a precarious spot.
Pivetta has taken to this high-leverage bullpen role. He has pitched 11⅔ innings in six relief appearances and allowed just three earned runs for a 2.31 ERA.
Can't cash in
The Phillies won despite again failing to take advantage of big run-scoring opportunities. Over the last two nights, the Phillies have had the bases loaded five times and scored a grand total of one run, stranding the other 14.
Four of those bases-loaded situations came with less than two outs. The only run they've been able to push across came on an RBI groundout from Cesar Hernandez.
Pinch-hitting J.T. Realmuto flew out to shallow left field with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh inning Saturday, and Harper grounded out on a 3-1 count to end the threat.
Bobby Abreu was inducted into the Phillies' Wall of Fame prior to Saturday's game. How much more money would Abreu have made playing today? He certainly did well in his day, making an estimated $125 million, but he could have made that in one contract these days.
Abreu's combination of power, elite plate selection and speed was appreciated in the early-2000s but would have been so much more coveted these days with the game built around homers and walks.
Scott Kingery was out of Saturday's lineup because of minor ankle soreness. Kingery was available off the bench and could be back in the lineup Sunday.
The series ends Sunday afternoon (1:05) when Drew Smyly faces Reynaldo Lopez.
Smyly is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two starts with the Phillies.
Lopez is 5-9 with a 5.43 ERA overall but has pitched very well since the All-Star break with a 2.05 ERA and .194 opponents' batting average.
After Sunday's game, the Phillies embark on a West Coast road trip to Arizona and San Francisco. Each of the first five games of the trip are late start times between 9:40 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. ET.
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