Aaron Nola, after allowing 30 runs in his last five starts, gave the Phillies six quick and efficient scoreless innings Monday in his return from a 16-day layoff. It was exactly what they needed to see after the worst stretch of Nola's young career.
It appeared the news would be all good in the series opener against the Marlins, but the Phils blew a two-run lead in the ninth and eventually lost, 3-2, in 11 innings.
Longtime Phillie-killer Martin Prado delivered the game-winning blow for Miami in the 11th, a leadoff homer against lefty Brett Oberholtzer.
With two outs in the bottom half of the 11th, Maikel Franco drove a ball deep to left-center field, but it was caught just in front of the wall to end the game.
The Phillies had led 2-0 in the ninth inning, and the Marlins had just two hits all night before things got dicey. They tied the game with a Christian Yelich RBI double and a two-out RBI single from Marcell Ozuna.
Hours earlier, Nola outpitched Marlins ace Jose Fernandez (who had 14 strikeouts) but had his night cut short by a line drive back to the mound that hit his right arm. Nola stayed in the game to finish the sixth but was greeted with handshakes in the Phillies' dugout.
The Phillies are 43-51; the Marlins are 50-42.
Starting pitching report
Nola was sharp from the get-go, striking out the first batter of the game, J.T. Realmuto, on a two-seam fastball that started over the plate and broke back inside. Nola remained locked in, facing the minimum 15 batters through five innings. Only two of the first 15 outs he recorded went past the infield.
It was the kind of rapid, strike-filled pace the Phillies have grown accustomed to from Nola, who needed just 68 pitches to complete six innings.
Nola's night would have gone longer if not for the line-drive comebacker that got him on the right shoulder with one out in the sixth. Nola stayed in the game after that Adeiny Hechavarria single, getting the second out on Fernandez's sacrifice and the third on a Prado popout following his only walk.
Fernandez had another unreal performance against the Phillies, striking out 14 men over 6⅓ innings. He was in complete control most of the night, retiring 16 of 18 batters (12 via strikeout) after Cameron Rupp's first-inning single. He ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing a mammoth home run to Tommy Joseph and walking Freddy Galvis.
Fernandez's 14 strikeouts were the most ever by a starting pitcher in fewer than seven innings against the Phillies.
His 10th strikeout of the night was the 500th of his career in 65 starts. Fernandez became the third-fastest starting pitcher since 1900 to reach 500 K's, behind only Dwight Gooden (61 starts) and Yu Darvish (62).
Edubray Ramos pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning and Hector Neris had a perfect eighth.
It was all set up for Gomez, who faltered in the ninth for his third blown save in 28 opportunities. He had chances to get out of the jam even after Yelich's RBI double made it a one-run game, but Gomez walked Giancarlo Stanton with a man on third and then allowed the game-tying single to Ozuna.
David Hernandez got in and out of trouble in the 10th before Oberholtzer lost it in the 11th.
Marlins closer A.J. Ramos picked up his 30th save. He's second in the majors to the Mets' Jeurys Familia (32).
At the plate
With 12 homers, Joseph has more than all but four rookies in the majors: Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Aledmys Diaz and Trayce Thompson. Joseph has played just 48 games.
A night after being one-hit, the Phillies had four. Odubel Herrera started the scoring in the first inning, leading off the game with a double and scoring on a groundout.
In the field
Cody Asche made a game-saving diving catch in left-center field with two on and two outs in the 10th inning.
On the bases
Herrera made a heads-up decision in the first inning, advancing from second to third when Marlins catcher Realmuto threw to first to retire Peter Bourjos on a dropped third strike. It enabled Herrera to score on Franco's ensuing groundout.
Manufacturing those kinds of early runs against a pitcher of Fernandez's caliber is crucial. It almost helped the Phillies to a win Monday.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr took another step forward in his recovery from wrist surgery, moving from the Gulf Coast League to Class A Clearwater in his rehab process (see story). The Phillies have until July 27 to decide whether to call up Altherr or option him to a minor-league affiliate. They'll likely bring him up, as his future is more meaningful to the Phils than Bourjos' or Asche's.
The four-game series continues Tuesday night as Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.32) makes his first start of the second half while the Marlins re-call Jose Urena (1-1, 7.52) to take the mound.