ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Nola tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts and beat former teammate Zach Eflin as the Philadelphia Phillies won their 10th consecutive road game, 3-1 over the AL-leading Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
It’s the Phillies’ longest winning away from home since the 1976 club won a franchise-best 13 straight.
Nola (8-6) allowed one run and five hits over 7 1/3 innings. The last batter he faced, Wander Franco, homered. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth and earned his 13th save in 13 chances.
Eflin (9-4) was making his first start against his old team after signing a $40 million, three-year contract, the largest free-agent deal in Rays’ history. The 29-year-old right-hander, who had won each of his first eight home starts, gave up two runs, four hits and struck out nine in seven innings.
Eflin was the eighth pitcher, and the first since Rick Sutcliffe led the Chicago Cubs in 1984 to their first playoff trip in 39 years, to win his first eight home starts with a club since 1901.
Nola and Eflin played together for seven seasons with Philadelphia. This was the first time in Phillies history that teammates for that long of time have faced off as starting pitchers in the next season, and the first time in the majors since Cleveland’s Cliff Lee the New York Yankees’ CC Sabathia in 2009.
Tampa Bay has lost nine of 15.
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead on consecutive second-inning doubles by Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm.
Eflin then retired 14 in a row until Bryce Harper had hit a one-out double in the seventh. Stott drove in Harper with a single.
Kyle Schwarber scored from first on Harper’s eighth-inning single off the right-field wall.
Tampa Bay had runners on first and third in the third, but Nola ended the threat by striking out Franco and Luke Raley. The right-hander also escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth.
HARPER GETTING MORE D WORK
Harper was the DH for the 52nd time since returning from Tommy John surgery, and continues ramping up his pregame work at first base and is making throws to second.
“Now we’re going to try and get him out there almost on a daily basis,” Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said.
The Phillies are 106-105 on July 4. Only the Chicago Cubs (226) and Pittsburgh (212) have played more times than Philadelphia’s 211 games on the holiday.
Phillies: Hugely regarded prospect Andrew Painter (sprained right elbow) had his first batting session since getting hurt early in spring training postponed due to what Thomson called a little stiffness.
“So we’ve backed everything up,” Thomson said about the 20-year-old right-hander. “We want to make sure that stiffness gets out and we move forward.”
Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (herniated disc) returned after missing 26 games and went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts.
Phillies RHP Taijuan Walker (9-3) and Tampa Bay RHP Yonny Chirinos (4-3) are Wednesday night’s starters.