PHILADELPHIA — Phillies ace Aaron Nola, gunning to extend his streak of 28 consecutive starts of five innings or more, held the Giants’ bats to one run on five hits on Tuesday, walking none and striking out 12, a career high.
The performance had Giants manager Bruce Bochy tipping his hat.
“He was the difference in the game,” Bochy said after his team’s 4-2 loss. “He was throwing any pitch at any time for strikes. It’s frustrating when you get shut down, but you have to give credit where it’s deserved. ”
Nola utilized all three of his signature pitches, including an arch change-up that is fast making him an early favorite for the NL Cy Young Award.
Matched against Nola, Giants starter Derek Holland did his best to keep things respectable, but he coughed up a home run in the both second and third innings, a pair of solo shots to Aaron Altherr and catcher Jose Alfaro, both knocks coming on slow-moving curveballs.
“They were lazy pitches,” Holland admitted, “and that pisses me off. As a hitter, when you see something like that, it’s easy to just sit back on it. If anything, point the finger at me. The home runs cost us.”
The Giants opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. Batting clean-up, Brandon Belt started off the inning with a single to right field, followed by Evan Longoria’s double down the third-base line, which advanced Belt to third. Then, on a purposeful ground-out, shortstop Brandon Crawford drove Belt home for his 11th RBI of the season.
After their second long ball, the Phillies tacked on another run in the third when Giants center fielder Austin Jackson failed to pick up a stiffly-hit ball from Cesar Hernandez. The error — the Giants’ 11th over their last four games — allowed Hernandez to reach third. Two batters later, Odubel Herrara singled into the gap and plated Hernandez, extending the Phillies’ lead to two.
Carlos Santana’s sixth-inning rocket off a 3-2 pitch from Giants reliever Cory Gearrin made it 4-1. Though ultimately futile, Pablo Sandoval cut the deficit to two when he cranked a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth, his second home run of the season and first ever as a pinch-hitter.
Before tonight’s loss, the Giants hadn’t dropped two games in a row since April 15. Addressing the team’s recent dip, Holland was not the least bit pessimistic: “We got beat down yesterday, but I thought that today was a better game. We got out-pitched, and that’s my own fault. But the team will continue to keep bouncing back. We’re gonna be alright.”