PHILADELPHIA – Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Monday afternoon he was sticking with the Phillies struggling hitters.
A few hours later, his patience was rewarded with a historic effort.
The Phillies hit five home runs and beat the Atlanta Braves 13-8 at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night. Philadelphia took control with seven runs in the bottom of the second inning to build a 10-1 lead. It was the first time in the Phillies 138 seasons that they scored 10 runs and hit four home runs in the first two innings of a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The offensive breakout made starting pitcher Aaron Nola’s life comfortable, and he responded with another stellar performance. Nola allowed two hits and one run in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking one.
"The hitters came out hot," Nola said. "All three of my pitches I was throwing for strikes. W want to get on a winning streak because the season is winding down."
The Phillies bats were struggling until Monday. They went 7 for 48 in a doubleheader loss to the Braves on Sunday. Philadelphia featured three players – Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery and Jean Segura, who began Monday with batting averages below .200 in the starting lineup.
But Philadelphia didn’t wait long to flash its power against Braves starter Sean Newcomb. After Phil Gosselin and Rhys Hoskins led off the bottom of the first with singles, Bryce Harper hit a Newcomb fastball 445 feet into the Atlanta bullpen in center field to make it 3-0 Philadelphia.
Things got even better for the Phillies in the second inning when they sent 10 batters to the plate and hit three home runs. Didi Gregorius struck the inning's big blow with a grand slam.
As impressive as the offense was, Nola might have been better. In his last two starts, he has allowed five hits and two runs in 14 innings, while striking out 22 and walking just two.
The Phillies beleaguered bullpen prevented it from being a completely successful night. Relievers Nick Pivetta and Trevor Kelley combined to allow seven runs in the top of the ninth.
"I'm frustrated for the guys that gave up the runs," Girardi said. "We want them to contribute, and we want to get them going. But it does not dampen that we won the game, Aaron pitched great and we swung the bats extremely well."
Monday’s win should give the Phillies some momentum has they try to find a consistent rhythm this season. Philadelphia (5-6) begins a three-game series at home against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
"We just have to be better all-around every single game," Harper said. "Not all of us are going to be on point every night, but one or two of us have to be on point."