The Philadelphia Phillies' surprising success in the first half of the season has been highlighted even more with the struggles of the Washington Nationals. The Phillies added to both of those on Thursday night with a 4-3 home win to open up the four-game weekend series. Aaron Nola was the star by going 7.2 innings and striking out eight for his 10th win of the season, as he was supported by the red hot Rhys Hoskins. The young Phillies star went deep for a two-run shot in the seventh inning, his 13th of the year, which helped create separation for the home team. Philadelphia took two of three from the Nationals in D.C. last weekend, and now pulled within two games of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East. Nola beat the Nationals his last time out as well, as he has not lost in his last six starts, dating back to May 26th. The right-hander threw 114 pitches in his masterful start, as he has also won seven straight decisions at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have dominated at that park all season long with an impressive 26-15 home record, and they have three more games to host this weekend,
Astros Shutout Rays for 11th Straight Road Win
The Houston Astros recently got over a win streak overall, but their success on the road has continued through Thursday night. The defending World Series Champions tied a franchise record with their 11th straight road win with a 1-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Rays. Lance McCullers struck out seven over seven innings to earn his ninth win for Houston, who has won McCullers' last six starts and 18 of 21 overall. This road win tied the franchise record that was set from May 14th-June 5th of last season, which again, ended in a World Series title. McCullers was replaced by Chris Devenski in the eighth inning, as he had to work out of a jam with two runners on for his 12th straight scoreless appearance. Hector Rondon came on in the ninth inning for his fifth save in seven opportunities, as the Astros ended the Rays' five-game win streak. Jake Marisnick's solo home run was the only support needed, and it came in the fifth inning off of Ryan Yarbrough, who suffered his fourth loss. That also ended the Rays' streak of 26 straight scoreless innings, which was the second-longest in franchise history. The Rays beat the Washington Nationals by a score of 1-0 on Wednesday, and became the first American League team to play consecutive 1-0 games in the same season since the Los Angeles Angels did so in June of 2008.
Cubs Pull Away to Split Series With Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw pitched well in his second start off the DL for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Chicago Cubs waited for him to exit before pulling away on Thursday. The Cubs widened the gap with a seven-run seventh inning to earn the four-game series split with an 11-5 rout of the Dodgers. Anthony Rizzo had a three-run double to headline the outburst, which also included Addison Russell's two-run home run. Five of those runs were charged against Walker Buehler, who fell to 4-2 out of the Dodger bullpen. Chicago ended with 15 hits, including a season-high four from Rizzo, while Russell finished with four runs driven in on the day. Kershaw lasted just five innings due to a pitch limit, and allowed a run on four hits and struck out six without walking a batter. He left with a 3-1 lead after throwing 68 pitches, but it was downhill from there for the Dodgers. Jason Heyward had the official go-ahead hit with a pinch-hit RBI double, while Albert Almora Jr. also went deep, as the Cubs took four of the seven games against the Dodgers in the past 10 days. Max Muncy did stay hot for L.A. with his team-leading 17th home run, while Justin Turner added a two-run shot to give them 58 home runs in the month of June. The Cubs will host an interleague series against the Minnesota Twins this weekend, while the Dodgers play host to the Colorado Rockies.