BOSTON – On a night when their offense did some damage early then went into a long hibernation, the Phillies pulled out an important, 3-2, win over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night because they pitched brilliantly.
Aaron Nola delivered a terrific start and Jose Alvarez, Mike Morin and Hector Neris combined for six outs in relief to close out the one-run victory.
Neris survived a ringing leadoff double in the ninth as Boston’s Xander Bogaerts ran into the first out on the bases. He then survived a liner off the bat of Andrew Benintendi that went for a game-ending double play.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Phillies, who entered the game two back in the NL wild-card race.
The Phillies had just seven hits on the night and four of them came in the first inning.
The Red Sox entered the game leading the majors with a .277 team batting average. The Phillies held them to five hits through eight innings. Pretty good.
Quick start, then …
The Phils scored three times against lefty Brian Johnson in the first inning. Two of the runs came on a double by Jean Segura after Rhys Hoskins walked and Bryce Harper doubled. Scott Kingery drove in the third run with a single.
That was it for the Phillies’ inconsistent offense. Starting with two outs in the fourth, Boston’s bullpen retired 15 straight Phillies hitters until Adam Haseley drew a two-out walk in the ninth.
He was superb. Just superb.
He pitched seven innings, allowed four hits and two runs. He struck out seven and walked just one. He threw 104 pitches and No. 103 was 94 mph.
Nola was outstanding in protecting a one-run lead in the fifth and sixth innings. Both times, he got three outs with a runner on second base. In the sixth, he retired the Sox’ No. 2, 3, and 4 hitters to get out of trouble. That trio of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez has combined for 82 homers.
Nola has shined in two career starts at Fenway Park. On July 30, 2018, he pitched a very similar ballgame – eight innings, four hits, one run, one walk and six strikeouts. The Phillies lost that game, 2-1.
On a night when the offense gave him little margin for error, Nola made one mistake – a first-pitch fastball to Jackie Bradley Jr., with a man on base in the third inning. Bradley ambushed the down-the-middle heater for a two-run homer. Two of the four hits that Nola allowed came in the inning.
Before the game, manager Gabe Kapler talked about riding Nola every fifth day through the end of the season (see story). Kapler said he wanted to see how this start went before he said anything definitive. It went pretty well.
Hoskins was the designated hitter in the American League park. Once again, Kapler looked to optimize Hoskins’ selectivity and on-base skills in the leadoff spot.
J.T. Realmuto got a break behind the plate and started at first base. Andrew Knapp did the catching.
He entered the game hitting just .168 since the All-Star break. He had an infield hit in the fourth inning and walked twice. He is hitting .239 but leads the team with a .380 on-base percentage.
Hoskins ignited the Phillies’ three-run first inning with a leadoff walk.
Drew Smyly (1-1, 4.71 in five starts with the Phillies) gets the ball Wednesday night. He will pitch against Boston’s Rick Porcelo (11-9, 5.49).
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.