By Jenny Masters
The Phillies Aaron Nola came back last night after two weeks on the COVID list, and he came up way short.
Aroldis Chapman allowed a run in the ninth inning before recording his first save in over a month, and the New York Yankees hit four homers to power past the Phillies 6-4.
Nola allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in his first start since July 6.
“He gave us an opportunity to win this game,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We struggled swinging the bats early.”
Brett Gardner hit a go-ahead homer in the fifth inning before Gary Sánchez, Giancarlo Stanton and Estevan Florial also connected in the final three innings for the Yankees, who moved within seven games of AL East-leading Boston.
The struggling Chapman, who entered with a 10.80 ERA in his last 15 appearances, struck out Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius — while also giving up a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen — to convert his 17th save in 21 opportunities. It was Chapman’s first save since getting a game-ending triple play against Oakland on June 20.
“Another really good step forward,” manager Aaron Boone said.
It was also his first save opportunity since allowing three runs without getting an out in the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets on July 4. He had made three scoreless appearances in low-leverage situations.
“I’m seeing the sharpness,” Sánchez said through a translator. “The past couple of outings, I see it. I see the quality of his pitches.”
Chapman fell behind Harper by throwing three straight fastballs out of the strike zone, but then used his slider to get the first out. McCutchen then hit a 1-0 100-mph fastball into the left field seats to make it 6-4.
Chapman threw three straight pitches over 100 mph to Hoskins and got his second strikeout on a 103-mph pitch. He ended the game by getting Gregorius to look at a 102-mph fastball.
“To fall behind 3-0 to Harper and just make some really good pitches against him was huge,” Boone said. “Then (after the McCutchen homer) it was right back to, I thought, really got locked in with his delivery, pounded the zone.
“You saw the velocity up, overpowered Hoskins and then the same with Didi. I think he just got in a really good place with his delivery, was on line and the stuff was there. So, encouraging again.”
Hoskins homered, Ronald Torreyes hit an RBI double and Jean Segura hit an RBI single for the Phillies, who lost for the fifth time in 15 games.
Playing without All-Star slugger Aaron Judge and five of his teammates who also tested positive for COVID-19 recently, the Yankees won their third straight and for the eighth time in 11 games since Chapman’s meltdown against the Mets.
The Yankees also scratched DJ LeMahieu with a stomach virus about 45 minutes before first pitch. The Yankees announced LeMahieu had a COVID-19 rapid test that came back negative but his absence resulted in Gardner leading off for the third time this season and Rob Brantly playing first base for the first, time in his career.
Gardner gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the fifth when he connected shortly after Greg Allen scored his second run on a throwing error by Gregorius at shortstop.
Before scoring his second run, Allen hit a triple in the third over right fielder Harper’s head scored on Florial’s grounder.
Sánchez’s 436-foot blast gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead in the sixth. Stanton’s homer in the seventh made it 5-2, and Florial’s first career homer made it 6-3.
New York starter Domingo Germán allowed two runs and three hits in four innings in his first start since June 30 against the Los Angeles Angels. Luis Cessa (3-1) followed German and was awarded the win.
Chad Green whiffed Hoskins and Gregorius to escape a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. Zack Britton allowed three straight one-hits, but got a double play to end the eighth.