Nola goes 7 strong, Williams goes deep, Phils beat O’s 4-1
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Aaron Nola was the man Gabe Kapler wanted on the mound with Manny Machado at the plate and the tying run on third base.
It was the right move.
Nola stuck out nine in seven splendid innings, Nick Williams hit a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 Wednesday to sweep a two-game interleague series.
Nola (11-2) gave up one run and seven hits to win his fifth straight decision.
He escaped a jam on his 103rd pitch when second baseman Cesar Hernandez made an outstanding, over-the-shoulder running catch on Machado’s shallow fly to right with two outs and runners on first and third.
“That’s awesome,” Nola said of the play.
Kapler, who was heavily criticized for pulling Nola after 68 pitches in the season opener at Atlanta, visited the mound before letting his ace face Machado with a 2-1 lead.
“We knew he was the best option,” the first-year manager said. “He always makes us feel confident.”
Nola said he would’ve lobbied to stay in but didn’t have to say anything other than he felt fine.
“I want to go deep in the game,” he said. “I want to get through that inning.”
After five consecutive losing seasons, the Phillies are on the rise under Kapler. They pulled within 1 1/2 games of NL East-leading Atlanta and moved 10 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2011 season with a franchise-record 102 wins.
“It’s a nice milestone, one we can celebrate,” Kapler said.
Making his second career start and third appearance, Orioles right-hander Yefry Ramirez (0-2) retired 13 of his first 14 batters before running into trouble in the fifth. Ramirez gave up two runs — one earned — and one hit in five innings.
“I was really proud of Yefry. You couldn’t ask for much better,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Williams connected off David Hess in the seventh, sending a 409-foot shot into Philadelphia’s bullpen in right-center and extending the lead to 4-1.
Victor Arano tossed two scoreless innings for his first career save.
Ramirez didn’t allow a hit until Scott Kingery ripped a one-out double to left in the fifth. Williams, who walked, advanced to third on the hit.
Jorge Alfaro followed with a grounder down the first-base line. Chris Davis moved a few steps to his left, took his eyes off the ball to look at Williams running halfway down the line, and the ball knuckled under his glove. Both runners scored on the error.
Adam Jones lined an RBI double to left-center in the third, giving the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
For the second straight day, fans clapped each time Machado was introduced. They also chanted “We want Manny!”
The three-time All-Star is set to become a free agent after the season and the Phillies are among the teams interested in acquiring him before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 or signing him in the offseason.
Machado told reporters before the game he wants to play shortstop wherever he goes and he wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphia aggressively pursued him. Phillies team president Andy MacPhail held the same position in Baltimore when the Orioles selected Machado No. 3 overall in the 2010 amateur draft.
Orioles: OF Joey Rickard was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to replace OF Colby Rasmus, who was placed on the restricted list before Tuesday night’s game.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff was scheduled to throw another live batting practice at Single-A Clearwater. Eickhoff has nerve issue in fingers and hasn’t pitched this season.
Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48 ERA) starts the opener of a four-game series at Minnesota on Thursday night. Cashner had a 3.21 ERA in five starts in June but didn’t earn a win.
Phillies: Nick Pivetta (5-7, 4.66 ERA) takes the mound at Pittsburgh for the start of a three-game series on Friday. Pivetta earned the win in a scoreless inning of relief in Philadelphia’s 13-inning victory over Washington last Sunday.
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