Nola throws 5 scoreless, but Phils lose to Nats 2-1 in 12
WASHINGTON (AP) — For Philadelphia Phillies rookie right-hander Aaron Nola, there were a couple of reasons why his outing against the Washington Nationals might stick in his mind for years to come.
For one thing, his older brother Austin, a minor league infielder in the Miami Marlins’ organization, was in the stands Saturday night.
“The first time,” Nola said, “he has had a chance to see me as a pro.”
And, as his career continues, the 22-year-old Nola hopes to draw on how he handles tough spots such as a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth inning, which he got out of cleanly, in what would become a 2-1 loss for Philadelphia to Washington on Bryce Harper’s RBI double in the 12th on Saturday night.
“It certainly helps to experience what I did tonight,” Nola said. “I’ve been hurt in situations like that before.”
He was lifted for a pinch hitter after throwing only 67 pitches in five scoreless innings, with six hits, five strikeouts and no walks.
In the fourth, three consecutive singles put him in trouble. But Nola struck out Ian Desmond looking at a 93 mph fastball, got Matt den Dekker to line out, then ended the inning with a groundout by Wilson Ramos.
“He’s a cool customer and shows no fear,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Mackanin said he isn’t sure whether Nola will get another start this season for the Phillies, who at 58-97 own the worst record in the majors.
The Nationals, meanwhile, were officially eliminated from playoff contention despite the victory.
While the Phillies-Nationals game was in the top of the 11th, the Mets finished beating the Cincinnati Reds 10-2 to clinch the NL East title. Washington (79-75) can’t possibly pass New York (88-67) in the standings, and is out of the wild-card race.
Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 for Washington, NL MVP front-runner Harper had three hits and drew his franchise-record-tying 123rd walk — and, like whatever else went right in 2015 for a team many considered a World Series favorite, none of it mattered.
With rain falling and the stands nearly empty at the end, Harper delivered a double to right off Colton Murray (0-1) to bring Anthony Rendon home from second.
Matt Thornton (2-1) got two outs for the win.
Strasburg turned in his fourth game in a row with at least 10 Ks and one walk. He allowed one run and three hits in eight innings and was perfect until the fifth, when Darin Ruf lined a single to left. Ruf singled to left again in the eighth, and scored on Brian Bogusevic’s double, making it 1-all.
Harper ended a four-game hitless skid — twice as long as any previous drought all season — by singling in the fourth off Nola.
Washington went ahead 1-0 in the sixth. Harper walked, took second and third on a pair of wild pitches by reliever Adam Loewen and scored on Desmond’s groundout.
Phillies: 1B Ryan Howard (knee), who hasn’t played since Sept. 14, “wasn’t even ready to pinch-hit today,” Mackanin said. “We have to be careful with him, especially since it’s his knees and that is a trouble area for him.”
Nationals: CF Michael A. Taylor was out of the starting lineup with a bothersome knee and hamstring — “a little sore, in general,” manager Matt Williams said. ... Before the game, reinstated OF Reed Johnson from the 60-day DL and moved CF Denard Span from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. Johnson missed 131 games; he had surgery to repair a tendon in his left foot, then broke a rib while on a minor league rehab assignment. ... Span had left hip surgery on Sept. 1.
In Sunday’s series finale, LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.49 ERA) — coming off a season-high 12 strikeouts in his previous start — will take the mound for Washington against Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (6-15, 4.93).
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