A.J. Cole held the Philadelphia Phillies to one run on six hits in 5 2⁄3 innings pitched in Citizens Bank Park, and a two-run home run by Washington’s center fielder Michael A. Taylor provided all the offense the Nationals needed in a series opening 3-1 win.
Cole, in three appearances against the Phillies this year (two as a starter, one in relief), has given up just two runs on 13 hits hits in 13 2⁄3 IP (1.32 ERA). The only run he allowed to the home team tonight came on a two-out, 0-2 fastball up in the zone to Philly center fielder Odubel Herrera, who hit it out to right on a line in the fourth.
Oliver Perez and Matt Grace got the Nationals through the seventh, and a double by Ryan Zimmerman, single by Victor Robles, and grounder by Jayson Werth brought in run No. 3, 3-1.
Matt Albers handled the eighth, and Sean Doolittle locked down save No. 21 in 21 opportunities since joining the Nationals.
Nationals now 95-61
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Jayson Werth connected for the Nationals’ first hit of the game with one down in the top of the second, and Michael A. Taylor followed with a two-run blast on a 3-1 fastball from Phillies’ starter Aaron Nola, putting the visiting Nats up 2-0 early. Taylor’s 17th.
Geauxing ... geauxing ... gone. pic.twitter.com/t0F4hR532Z— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 25, 2017
• A.J. Cole worked around two hits and a walk in three scoreless, striking out three on 53 pitches.
• Taylor walked in his second trip to the plate in the top of the fourth, and he stole his 16th base of the season with Matt Wieters up, but was stranded two outs later.
• A.J. Cole retired the first two batters of the Phillies’ fourth, and got up 0-2 on Odubel Herrera, then left a fastball up in the zone, over the plate and the Philly center fielder hit it out to right field for a solo shot that made it a 2-1 game in the Nationals’ favor.
Cole had two outs and two strikes on Herrera, and was a strike away from a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 frame, but ended up throwing 25 pitches in the inning, pushing him up to 78.
• Aaron Nola struck out three in a 16-pitch fifth that left him at 90 pitches total with eight Ks on the night, and he added a K in a 16-pitch sixth that ended his outing.
• Aaron Nola’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 68 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
• Cole gave up a one-out single by Odubel Herrera in the sixth, but got out No. 2, and was lifted ten pitches into the inning at 101 total on the night.
• Oliver Perez took over with a runner on a first and two out in the Phillies’ sixth and walked the first batter he faced, Phillies’ catcher Andrew Knapp, but popped up first baseman Tommy Joseph to end the inning. Still 2-1 Nats.
• A.J. Cole’s Line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 67 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
A.J. Cole has a 1.32 ERA vs. PHI in 2017 (3 games, 2 starts). pic.twitter.com/fYZ44ZZRdf— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 26, 2017
• Edubray Ramos retired the Nationals in order in a 13-pitch top of the seventh, and Matt Grace tossed a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to preserve the 2-1 lead.
• Ryan Zimmerman doubled with one down in the top of the eighth inning, and Victor Robles followed with a pinch hit single that put runners on the corners before Jayson Werth beat out a potential 5-4-3 on a sharp grounder to third to bring in the Nats’ third run, 3-1.
• Matt Albers, who’s leaving the team for the birth of a child this week, threw a quick, 15-pitch, 1-2-3 8th to keep it a 3-1 game.
• Sean Doolittle came on looking for save No. 21 in 21 opportunities with the Nats and retired the Phillies in order in a 17-pitch frame. Ballgame. Final Score: 3-1 Nationals.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Washington starts this weekend’s three-game set 114-124 in the all time series with the Philadelphia Phillies, with a 10-6 record against their NL East rivals this season.
- The Phillies have lost 22 of their last 29 games against the Nationals and have been outscored 135-109 over that stretch.
- Washington’s 49-29 road record this season is the best in the NL and the third-best in the majors.
- Washington’s 790 runs scored thus far in 2017 are already a team record, surpassing the 2017 Nationals’ 763 runs.
- Philadelphia’s Phillies have won nine of their last 15 game and are 33-36 since the All-Star break after finishing the first half 29-58.
- Washington’s offense starts the three-game set in Citizens Bank Park leading the NL in SLG (.450), run scored (790), and OPS (.781), and the Nationals are ranked second in the NL in AVG (.265), and extra-base hits (536).
- Anthony Rendon, who is getting the night off tonight, leads the NL in fWAR (6.7) and is ranked third in the majors.
- A.J. Cole is facing the Phillies tonight for the third this season and the fifth time in his career (third start), and he takes the mound with a 3.63 career ERA vs Philadelphia.
Nationals now 95-61