TORONTO (AP) — Bryce Harper hit two solo home runs, Aaron Nola pitched five innings and snapped a four-start winless streak and the Philadelphia Phillies won for the first time in four games, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 9-4 on Wednesday night.
Jake Cave added a solo homer and Nick Castellanos had two hits and an RBI as the Phillies avoided a sweep in the two-game series north of the border.
Philadelphia had scored only two runs in losing its previous three games, but broke out of that slump with an 11-hit effort against the Blue Jays.
“I really liked the way we played tonight and I really liked our at-bats,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Our defense was solid.”
Harper went 3 for 4 with a walk in his 25th career multi-homer game and first this season. He tied the score at 2 by connecting off Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman in the third inning, then made it 9-4 with a leadoff blast off righty Bowden Francis in the ninth.
“I like swinging in August, September and October,” Harper said. “Looking forward to tonight being a stepping stone into my weekend.”
The homers were Harper’s eighth and ninth of the season.
“He went to his two-strike approach on the last one, no stride,” Thomson said. “That was nice to see because I really believe in that for him. It really keeps his head still and obviously he doesn’t lose any power with it.”
Nola (10-8) allowed four runs and four hits, including a two-run home run by Daulton Varsho. Nola struck out seven and walked a season-high four, the same number of walks he had over five starts in July.
“A lot of deep counts, a lot of walks,” Nola said. “It’s not acceptable, four walks. I battled out there, they battled me.”
Left-hander Matt Strahm worked two innings, Craig Kimbrel struck out a pair in the eighth and Gregory Soto finished.
“Strahm was great,” Thomson said. “He came in and settled the game right down.”
Gausman (9-7) allowed seven runs, five earned, and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four, boosting his AL-leading total to 187.
“They were a World Series team last year,” Gausman said of the Phillies. “If you give them that many chances, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
Castellanos doubled and scored on Cave’s sacrifice fly in the second, but Varsho answered in the bottom half with his 15th home run.
Cavan Biggio restored Toronto’s lead with a two-run single in the bottom of the third, but Gausman couldn’t make it stand up. Castellanos hit an RBI double in the fifth and two runs scored on third baseman Santiago Espinal’s two-out throwing error.
Kyle Schwarber hit a sacrifice fly off left-hander Tim Mayza in the sixth, and Alec Bohm followed with an RBI single.
Cave made it 8-4 with a leadoff homer off right-hander Jay Jackson in the eighth, his third.
Phillies: OF Cristian Pache (right elbow) went 1 for 4 as the DH in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday night.
Blue Jays: Gold Glove 3B Matt Chapman missed his third straight game because of a sore right middle finger. … SS Bo Bichette (right knee) started at DH and went 2 for 3 in a rehab appearance at Triple-A Buffalo Wednesday, scoring from first base on a double. Bichette will play SS for the Bisons on Thursday and could rejoin the Blue Jays on Friday. … RHP Trevor Richards (neck) struck out one and walked one in a scoreless inning at Buffalo, while RHP Chad Green (concussion protocol/elbow surgery) allowed one run and two hits in 1 1/3 innings, striking out three.
Gausman said he isn’t a fan of Wednesday’s plate umpire, Alfonso Marquez.
“That umpire has the smallest strike zone in all of the big leagues, so you have to kind of know that going in,” Gausman said.
WHO’S ON FIRST?
Harper started at 1B for the first time since leaving in the fifth inning of an Aug. 10 win over Washington because of back spasms. Harper had been the DH in his previous three games.
“I’ve been feeling good,” Harper said. ”I look forward to keep playing over there.”
Gausman and Nola have been friends since spending a season as teammates at Louisiana State University.
“It’s always fun facing off against him,” Nola said.
Phillies: RHP Michael Lorenzen (7-7, 3.23 ERA) is expected to start Friday as Philadelphia opens a three-game series at Washington. The Nationals had not named a starter.
Blue Jays: RHP José Berríos (9-8, 3.53 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday as Toronto begins a three-game series at Cincinnati. The Reds had not named a starter.
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