PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Mastering a new pitch has turned Aaron Nola into an ace.
Nola tied a career-high with nine strikeouts in seven sharp innings, Freddy Galvis hit a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the reeling Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 on Friday night.
Nola (7-6) allowed one run and five hits. He has six straight quality starts, going 4-1 and lowering his ERA from 4.76 to 3.38 in that span.
A first-round draft pick in 2014, Nola made his major league debut exactly two years ago. He added a change-up to his repertoire this season and he’s been dominant at times because of it.
“Nola was outstanding,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He used all his pitches, spotted his fastball and changed speeds. He’s better now than before. He has increased velocity. That change-up, he threw a ton of them. He was real excited about it. When he can do that with the rest of his arsenal, I expect a good performance each time he goes out.”
Nola threw mostly fastballs and curves before working on his change-up in spring training. It took time for him to feel comfortable throwing it and gain confidence in using it no matter the count on the batter.
“It’s evolved,” he said. “The more I worked on it, it got better. It’s a feel pitch for me.”
The NL Central-leading Brewers have lost six in a row and their lead over the defending World Series champion Cubs is only one game.
The Phillies have won three straight games for only the third time this season but still have the worst record in the majors.
Brewers starter Matt Garza (4-5) gave up two runs and three hits in five innings.
“He kept us in the game, battled through the first two innings and then pitched good,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Galvis gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first inning when he ripped his 11th homer into the right-field seats.
Brett Phillips cut it to 2-1 when he hit an opposite-field drive to left in the second.
The Phillies broke it open against reliever Carlos Torres in the sixth.
Maikel Franco led off with a single and Daniel Nava hit a double. Tommy Joseph’s two-run double off the center-field wall extended Philadelphia’s lead to 4-1. Torres walked Cesar Hernandez with the bases loaded to force in another run.
Rob Scahill replaced Torres and Galvis hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1. Galvis has four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 19 games.
The Brewers have scored only 12 runs during their losing streak. This was the only loss in that span in which they didn’t have a lead.
Brewers: LF Ryan Braun missed his third straight start because of a right wrist injury. Braun said he received a cortisone shot before the All-Star break. He could return to the lineup on Saturday.
Phillies: LF/2B Howie Kendrick was activated from the disabled list and 1B Brock Stassi was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Kendrick had been sidelined since June 28 with a strained left hamstring. ... Nava left the game with a slight left hamstring strain.
LHP Brent Suter (1-1, 3.09 ERA) starts for the Brewers while RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6-5, 4.44) takes the mound for the Phillies on Saturday night.