Major League Baseball

Phils turn to ace Nola, go for sweep over Reds

mlb1REDS (28-35) AT PHILLIES (37-27)
1:05 p.m. ET; NBCSP, FS-O, MLB.TV

The Philadelphia Phillies will try to complete a three-game sweep when they host the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

The Phillies won their fourth straight game on Saturday, 4-1, behind Nick Pivetta’s first career complete game.

Right-hander Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.63 ERA) starts for Philadelphia on Sunday, looking to bounce back from his first loss of the season. Against the Padres on June 3, Nola allowed six runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.

It was the third time this season that Nola allowed five runs or more in a start. Last season, when he finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting, he went all 33 starts without allowing five earned runs.

That said, Nola had been on a roll of late, allowing three earned runs or less in his previous eight consecutive starts while going 5-0.

Nola is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four career starts against the Reds.

He will be opposed by right-hander Sonny Gray (2-5, 3.54), who has fashioned a 2.45 ERA over his past four starts with the Reds going 3-1 in the process. In his last start, he endured a 33-pitch first inning in a loss to the Washington Nationals.

“They had long at-bats, they battled. They fouled a lot of pitches off,” Gray told MLB.com.

He gave up two runs on five hits over five innings.

“The first inning took a little bit out of him. To his credit, he bounced back and it wasn’t easy for him,” manager David Bell told MLB.com. “He really settled down and was good for five.”

Gray has never faced Philadelphia.

On Saturday, J.T. Realmuto homered for the Phillies, who have followed a five-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak.

“It kind of feels like a long time ago,” Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins told reporters of the losing streak. “But I think that’s kind of how we’ve been this whole year. We’ve lost a couple in a row and it seems like we bounce back right away.

“[T]o get swept for the first time in June and then bounce back right away and win four straight, not laying down after getting swept in L.A. and then losing the first one in San Diego the way that we did, I think it just says a lot about resilience. Usually the sign of a good team.”

On Saturday Pivetta allowed hits to the first two Reds batters and then didn’t allow another baserunner until Joey Votto’s leadoff single in the seventh inning.

While Jay Bruce didn’t hit his fifth home run in his fifth game with the Phillies, he did contribute a two-run single in the first inning against his former team.

Joey Votto had two singles for the Reds, who have lost three straight games. Votto’s average is up to .256 but he has just 16 extra-base hits all season and 13 have come with the bases empty.

“Obviously, I’m not where I have been in years past,” Votto told MLB.com. “It’s 2019. I have to make sure I make the best out of how I feel and how I can perform. I’m doing that right now. It’s a long season. I feel competitive. I feel motivated. I’m putting in the work. I’m steady with my work. I have faith that it’ll show itself over the long run.”

–Field Level Media

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