ST. LOUIS - Aaron Nola delivered his best start of the season and Bryce Harper connected for his fourth career grand slam to lead the Phillies to a 11-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the shadow of the Gateway Arch on Tuesday night.
The win was the Phillies' 20th of the season against 15 losses. They sit atop the National League East.
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• Nola was excellent.
• The Phillies were opportunistic. They capitalized on two St. Louis errors, two walks and a passed ball on their way to six unearned runs in the second inning. The Phils had just two hits in the inning, a leadoff double by Odubel Herrera and the grand slam by Harper.
• Harper entered the game hitting just .226 overall and .182 in his previous 18 games. He had just two homers over that span. St. Louis right-hander Dakota Hudson figured to be a good matchup for Harper. Hudson came in allowing a batting average of .397 and an OPS of 1.258 against lefty hitters. Harper walked his first time up against Hudson then went deep and singled in his next two at-bats against the St. Louis starter. Harper has had some trouble hitting good fastballs in the early part of the season. Maybe Hudson didn't get the scouting report. Harper's grand slam came on a slider and his fifth-inning single on a curveball.
The right-hander looked a lot like the guy who finished third in the NL Cy Young voting last season. He gave up three hits and a run over six innings. He walked one and struck out seven. Nola allowed just one hit through the first five innings. He gave up a solo homer and a single in the sixth.
Nola's off-speed stuff was excellent. Of his 101 pitches, 65 were curveballs and changeups. He got 11 swings and misses on those two pitches. Both have steadily sharpened as the season has unfolded.
Nola has given up just one run in each of his last three starts.
The cleanup man
Rhys Hoskins went 4 for 5 with a homer and a double to raise his season average to .302. He is 14 for 34 (.412) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 10 games. Hoskins leads the club with 11 homers.
Scott Kingery, recovering from a hamstring strain, continues to ramp up the intensity of his running. There is no official timetable for his return, but he seems to have taken big steps in the last few days.
The series concludes on Wednesday afternoon. Jerad Eickhoff (1-1, 2.05) pitches against right-hander Jack Flaherty (3-2, 4.17). First pitch is 1:15 p.m.
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