Maikel Franco is the first to admit he's failed to live up to expectations this year, but he proved to be a difference-maker last night in Seattle, launching a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning to propel the Phillies to an 8-2 victory in Tuesday's series opener at Safeco Field.
Aaron Nola also impressed, tossing seven innings while surrendering two runs on five hits. He walked four, struck out nine, and threw a career-high 113 pitches.
"It was great to see Nola pitch well, like we've grown accustomed to. He's been pitching really well," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "His ball-to-strike ratio wasn't the greatest, but he just kept nibbling in the right spots. He really kept us in the game. He set a good pace during that game, like he was attacking the hitters. It was great to see."
The Mariners jumped ahead with Jean Segura's two-run homer in the third, but the Phillies answered to tie the contest in the fifth via back-to-back sacrifice-fly's by Ty Kelly and Daniel Nava.
The Phillies offense jumped on the Mariners bullpen over final two frames to put the game out of reach. Freddy Galvis collected three hits in the winning effort.
Mark Leiter Jr. is set to make his second major league start this afternoon in the series finale. He surrendered three hits over six scoreless innings in his debut last week against the D-backs. The Mariners counter with Felix Hernandez, making his second start after missing two months with bursitis in his right shoulder. He allowed three runs in six innings in a victory over the Astros on Friday.
Odubel Herrera admitted prior to yesterday's contest he was fined by Mackanin last weekend for ignoring a red light and attempting to steal a base against Arizona. He was out of the lineup last night.
"I have to focus better," Herrera said last week. "I'm aggressive and sometimes that can lead to bad decisions."
Herrera, riding a 10-game hitting streak, was kept out of last night's lineup to rest against a righty, Mackanin said.
Howie Kendrick was in the starting lineup for the first time in six days last night, but at the designated hitter spot. He's been hampered by a sore left hamstring and is still unable to play defense. If the situation doesn't improve by Friday when the Phillies open a series in New York it's possible he may land on the disabled list.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
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