Dominant Nola, Phillies shut down Marlins for 3-game sweep

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MIAMI – Aaron Nola struck out 10 and pitched scoreless ball into the ninth inning as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Miami Marlins 4-0 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

Yairo Munoz homered to help Philadelphia head into the All-Star break at 49-43. Even minus injured star Bryce Harper, the Phillies showed a dramatic turnaround after manager Joe Girardi was fired on June 3, going 27-14 under Rob Thomson.

“This is a confidence builder, absolutely,” Thomson said. “Obviously, momentum going into the break, rest up and then come back out firing.”

Nola (6-7) gave up four hits and walked one. He was pulled after allowing one-out singles to Joey Wendle and Brian Anderson in the ninth.

“Just stuck with my same approach and tried to make the best pitches that I could,” Nola said.

Jose Alvarado relieved and struck out Garrett Cooper and retired Bryan De La Cruz on a grounder for his first save. The Phillies shut out Miami in the final 25 innings of the series.

“The ninth hasn’t been my best friend the last several times I’ve been in the ninth,” Nola said. “Alvarado came in and shut the door.”

Nola extended his string of starts of at least seven innings to eight, the second-longest active streak in the major leagues behind Miami ace Sandy Alcantara, who has 13.

“He managed his pitch count extremely well, he was unbelievable,” Thomson said.

The Phillies posted their first three-game sweep in Miami since 2010.

The Marlins scored one run in the series. They have not homered in eight games, the second-longest drought in club history – Miami teams in 1993 and 2019 failed to go deep in nine straight games.

“Things look really bad when you’re not swinging the bats,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It looks like your team has no energy. It doesn’t mean guys aren’t trying but you go inning after inning and not get anything going, it’s hard to have that when nothing is going on.”

The Phillies scored all their runs in the fourth. Alec Bohm and Matt Vierling had consecutive RBI doubles and Munoz hit a two-run homer. Munoz drove the first pitch from Trevor Rogers (4-9) over the wall in left for his third homer.

Before their sweep, the Phillies were 0-6-1 in the last seven road series against Miami.

“It’s definitely big to come down here and get a series sweep,” Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber said.

Rogers went six innings, allowing seven hits, striking out four and plunking two batters. Miami designated hitter Jesus Aguilar didn’t last that long – he was ejected in the second by plate umpire Ron Kulpa for arguing balls and strikes.

MORE SWINGS FOR SCHWARBER

While many of his teammates will have a lengthier All-Star break, Schwarber will head to Los Angeles and compete in the Home Run Derby on Monday. Schwarber, who leads the NL with 29 homers, will face three-time MVP Albert Pujols in the first round.

“It’s like a childhood dream,” Schwarber said. “I grew up in Cincinnati so I watched him. To go up against him in the Home Run Derby, wow. It’s like a bucket-list item.”

IMPROVEMENTS AT THE BREAK

The Phillies were 44-44 at the All-Star break last year. They haven’t had Harper, the reigning the NL MVP, since his thumb was broken by a pitch from San Diego’s Blake Snell on June 25.

The Marlins are 43-48. They were 39-51 at the break last year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (right knee bruise) will not throw in a simulated game during the break after experiencing soreness Sunday. He will be re-evaluated Monday in Philadelphia. …RHP Sam Coonrod (right shoulder bruise) will go on a rehab assignment after the All-Star break.

Marlins: RHP Edward Cabrera (right shoulder tendinitis) completed three perfect innings in his rehab start Saturday at Double-A Pensacola. …RHP Anthony Bender (back stiffness) was scheduled to appear in a rehab outing Sunday at Single-A Jupiter.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Kyle Gibson (5-3, 4.35) will start the opener of a three-game home series against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

Marlins: Have not announced the starter for its home game against Texas on Thursday.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).