AARON NOLA PITCHES LIKE THE ACE OF PHILLIES’ STARTERS

Cedric Hunter hit a solo homer off Rays starter Drew Smyly for the Phillies, who scored four times in the eighth against Xavier Cedeno to take the lead and pull away.

Nola allowed two runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, including Logan Morrison’s RBI double and Kevin Kiermaier’s fifth-inning homer. The 22-year-year old who made his major league debut against the Rays last July struck out five.

It was Nola’s best outing this spring by far after giving up a combined six runs and eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in his first two starts.

”I definitely felt better with all my pitches. My body felt better, felt like it was more in synch,” Nola said.

”He looked more like himself today,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. ”He located his pitches real well. He just made a couple of mistakes.”

Smyly didn’t allow a run in either of his first two starts this spring. Hunter’s homer on an 0-2 fastball was one of three hits he yielded in 4 2/3 innings against the Phillies.

The left-hander, limited to 12 starts last season when spent 105 games on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury, said Hunter hit a high fast ball that was out of the strike zone.

”I threw him a curveball and sinker the first two pitches, so that was impressive on his part,” Smyly said.

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