PHILADELPHIA — Aaron Nola insisted the one big inning that has plagued him in so many starts this season — the latest, when the Phillies right-hander was spotted a 5-0 lead and still couldn’t finish the fifth inning — is not some sort of mental block. He says it has nothing to do with distractions from his looming free agency and the contract talks that stalled in spring training.
Manager Rob Thomson is just as stumped as to why Nola runs into trouble after often pitching like an ace leading into the game-changing inning.
Nola, though, knows he needs to get right if the NL champs have any real design on a repeat run to the World Series.
“I’ve got to try and turn that corner and limit the big inning,” Nola said.
Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run homer and Brandon Marsh drove in three on a bases-clearing double to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to an 8-4 win over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
Schwarber hit his 42nd this season and his three RBIs gave him 93, one shy of his career best set last season. He led the National League a year ago with 46 homers. Schwarber may set career highs in both categories — all while his batting average hovers under .200 this season.
Four relievers and a potent offense bailed out Nola after he gave up four runs in the fifth and allowed seven hits overall, struck out six and had his ERA jump to 4.64.
“It just unraveled,” Nola said. “It’s kind of been that way all year. Just one big inning and it does it in for me for the start.”
Jeff Hoffman (4-2) tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.
Schwarber’s shot into the Phillies’ bullpen off Marlins starter Johnny Cueto (1-4) broke open a five-run second inning. Nick Castellanos, in his first game since the All-Star was dropped to eighth in the lineup, added a two-run double.
The Marlins fell 1 1/2 games out of an NL wild-card spot and had defeated the Phillies — the wild-card leaders — a night earlier. Cueto, though, labored from the start and threw 92 pitches — 50 in the second inning —in 3 2/3 innings.
The Marlins’ best chance in the wild-card race is trying to catch Arizona for the third spot. The Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Saturday for their fourth consecutive victory.
Miami, though, gamely rallied on a stormy night in Philly against Nola .
“It’s definitely not mental for me,” Nola said. “My pitches felt good tonight. It’s just the way it went.”
Garrett Hampson hit a solo shot and the Marlins got run-scoring doubles from Jacob Stallings and Josh Bell that cut it to 5-4 in the fifth. Nola couldn’t escape the fifth, his second straight start where he couldn’t get out of the inning. Nola heard scattered boos from Phillies fans as he trudged off the mound.
“I still have a lot of faith in Aaron, I really do,” Thomson said. “I trust him. I think the bigger the game, usually, the more he steps up. I have to live with that. I believe that’s still true.”
No worries. The Phillies offense — which boasted three players with 85-plus RBIs and had seven hitters with double-digit homer totals — erupted again when Marsh ripped a double in the fifth that made it 8-4.
BIG LEAGUE DEBUT
Marlins reliever Enmanuel De Jesus allowed Marsh’s double and struck out three over 4 1/3 innings of relief in his first MLB outing. His three strikeouts are the most by a Marlins reliever in his MLB debut since 2012.
Phillies 2B Bryson Stott was pained and clutched his side after he was drilled in the ribs by De Jesus in the fifth. Phillies trainers checked on Stott but he remained in the game. Stott had trouble breathing standing at first but would score on Marsh’s double.
Castellanos went from All-Star to the eight hole.
Thomson counted on a demotion in the batting order as the solution to jump-start the slumping slugger.
Castellanos hasn’t been the same since played in the All-Star game. He hit .162 in July and grounded into three double plays in a loss this week at San Diego. He’s walked only 31 times this season and has struck out a career-worst 163 times.
Thomson said Castellanos, who had two hits, took the demotion like a pro.
“I’m sure he’s not exactly happy and I don’t blame him for that,” Thomson said. “He’s an experienced guy. For the most part, he’s been our most consistent hitter, especially in the first half.”
Third baseman Alec Bohm moved to the cleanup spot.
Thomson briefly moved shortstop Trea Turner to eighth in the lineup during a slump earlier this season. Turner rebounded and entered Saturday on a 16-game hitting streak. Thomson said the opportunity is there for Castellanos to regain his cleanup spot.
“I’m confident he’s going to start hitting again, and when he does we’ll think about moving him again,” Thomson said.
The Phillies send LHP Ranger Suarez (2-6, 3.91 ERA) to the mound to wrap the three-game set. The Marlins did not name a starter.
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