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Phillies ace Aaron Nola shuts down Red Sox in four-inning stint

Matt Breen, Staff Writer

Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 3:43 PM

Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola works in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox.

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Aaron Nola looked outstanding as he struck out five in four innings Wednesday, and the Phillies topped the Red Sox, 2-1, in Grapefruit League action.

Phillies guest instructor Mike Schmidt signs his autograph before the Phillies played the Red Sox. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola throws the baseball. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies guest instructor's Larry Bowl, Charlie Manuel and Mike Schmidt watch the Phillies take on the Red Sox. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies Carlos Santana drops his bat after hitting a single. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies Maikel Franco hits a single. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies Odubel Herrera catches Red Sox Steve Selsky's fly ball. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies pitcher Pat Neshek throws the baseball. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies J.P. Crawford throws the baseball to first base after forcing out Red Sox Kyri Washington at second base. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies Nick Williams turns his body after getting hit by a pitch. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Red Sox pitcher Kyle Martin (right) tries to catch Phillies J.P. Crawford's infield pop-up. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies Nick Williams scores past Red Sox catcher Jordan Procyshen. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies Nick Williams gets a tap from teammate Adam Rosales after Williams scored. YONG KIM/Staff Photographer YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Photo Gallery: Photos from the Phillies' 2-1 win over the Red Sox

Here’s a look at the game:

The starter

Aaron Nola: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Nola was strong against a split-squad Boston lineup missing most of its regulars. Nola is the first Phillies pitcher this spring to exceed three innings, and it was easily the best pitching performance of camp. His change-up is still a work in progress, and Nola called it “subpar.” But he did use the pitch to whiff Andrew Benintendi — one of Boston’s two regulars — in the fourth inning. Nola began throwing the pitch last spring and threw it last season for 16 percent of his pitches.

“As a starter, you need three pitches,” Nola said. “You have to mix it up a good bit sometimes. If you don’t have all your pitches working, you have to go to something else sometimes. That’s definitely an important pitch.”

Three things

The Phillies used a lineup that could very well be the one they use on opening day. Manager Gabe Kapler played regulars at all positions with Nola, the opening-day starter, on the mound. The season will start March 29 in Atlanta.

Drew Hutchison logged three innings and struck out four as he stayed in the race for the fifth-starter role. The righthander, who is in camp on a minor-league deal, allowed one run on two hits and no walks. The leaders in the fifth-starter competition appear to be Zach Eflin and Ben Lively.

Odubel Herrera singled in the fourth inning for his first hit this spring. He had been hitless in his first 15 at-bats. Herrera was slowed earlier in camp by a sore shoulder. He played center field for the third time.

Next up

Lively will start for the Phillies on Thursday when they travel to Tampa to face the Yankees at 1:05 p.m.

Matt Breen, Staff Writer

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