Aaron Nola on Thursday struck out 11 and allowed just five hits in his second career nine-inning shutout as the Philadelphia Phillies closed out a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds with a 4-0 victory.
Edmundo Sosa had three RBIs from the ninth spot in the lineup and Kyle Schwarber hit his National League-leading 35th homer of the season, moving him two ahead of Paul Goldschmidt of the St Louis Cardinals.
With the win, the Phillies increased their lead to 2.5 games over idle San Diego in the race for the National League’s second wild-card spot. Philadelphia has a four-game lead over Milwaukee, who is the first team out of playoff contention in the newly expanded format.
Philadelphia also went 31-20 in games without slugger Bryce Harper, who was expected to rejoin the lineup yesterday after missing two months with a broken left thumb.
Nola (9-10), pitching with an extra day of rest, made short work of the Reds’ inexperienced lineup, cruising through the first seven innings on only 69 pitches while yielding only a single to Donovan Solano.
“Aaron Nola is really good at pitching,” Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs said. “That guy is a good baseball player. He is known for his curveball, but tonight he was more than the curveball. Tonight, they had to think about everything.”
In the eighth inning, Nola allowed back-to-back singles to Aristides Aquino and Alejo Lopez, before getting Jose Barrero, Austin Romine and Jake Fraley to strike out swinging, ending the threat.
Nola struck out two in the ninth before getting Aquino to bounce back to the mound to end it on his 101st pitch.
“There were a couple of innings where they had some guys on and I had to make some pitches,” Nola said. “Thankfully, we did.”
It was Nola’s first nine-inning shutout since a 2-0 win over the Cardinals on April 18 last year, when he allowed just two hits. The veteran right-hander also threw a seven-inning, complete-game shutout on Sept. 11, 2020, in an 11-0 win over the Miami Marlins, part of a doubleheader.
“Going seven, eight or nine is our goal every time out,” Nola said. “We want to put the load on our back.”
Schwarber got the scoring going with a blast off Reds starter Justin Dunn (1-2) hit three-quarters up the batters eye in dead center. He became the 11th player in franchise history to hit 35 or more homers in a season.
Sosa, who was acquired in a deal with the Cardinals on July 30 for reliever JoJo Romero, had his second three-RBI game against the Reds in 10 days. He has three games in his four-year major league career with three or more RBIs.
He lifted a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to bring home Stubbs, then roped a single to center field on a hit-and-run in the seventh that scored Matt Vierling and Bradley Zimmer, giving the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
Zimmer was two for three for the Phillies, who are now 58-17 in games in which they have scored four or more runs.
“Stubbs had a great night,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “Everyone is contributing and it’s a real team effort.”
Elsewhere, the Mets mastered the Rockies 3-1, the Astros tamed the Twins 6-3, the Rays routed the Angels 8-3, the Cardinals crushed the Cubs 8-3, the Mariners sank the Guardians 3-1, the Yankees thrashed the Athletics 13-4, the Blue Jays edged the Red Sox 6-5 in 10 innings and the Orioles outlasted the White Sox 4-3 in 11 innings.
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