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First meets worst again as Phillies visit Rockies

The Philadelphia Phillies entered the weekend on a roll and were one out away from winning for the 30th time in the past 36 games when the Colorado Rockies, the worst team in the National League, rallied to beat them 3-2 in 11 innings on Friday night.

The Phillies won't get a series sweep, but they still have a chance to take two of three games from the Rockies starting Saturday night in Denver.

Philadelphia will send Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.05 ERA) to the mound against fellow right-hander Dakota Hudson (1-7, 5.89) of the Rockies in the second of three games in the series.

Nola has started 10 games in his career against Colorado and is 4-2 with a 3.36 ERA. He faced the Rockies in April but got a no-decision despite striking out nine over 7 1/3 innings.

Even with Friday night's loss, Philadelphia still has the best record in baseball at 37-15 and a comfortable six-game lead over the second-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Phillies went to the World Series in 2022 and to the National League Championship Series last season, but outfielder Nick Castellanos said this season's edition is different.

One reason is the team has been winning despite the absence of shortstop Trea Turner, who went on the injured list May 4 with a hamstring injury. He was hitting .343 at the time. The timeline for his return initially was set at six weeks.

"This is the best team I've ever been a part of. It's a lot of fun. Winning is hard, right, even when you have the same pieces together for a long amount of time," Castellanos said. "So the fact that we're able to feel adversity together, to feel triumphs together, it just makes our bond as a group greater."

While Philadelphia has won 17 games in May, Colorado got just its 17th win of the season on Friday night. It has been a tough start for the Rockies, but they've shown improvement. After a 7-22 start through April, they've played almost .500 ball in May, going 10-11.

Friday night's win was largely due to a strong performance from the Rockies' bullpen, which tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Ty Blach -- a day after turning a 4-0, seventh-inning lead at Oakland into a 10-9 loss in 11 innings.

Rockies manager Bud Black knew this would be a challenging season for his relief corps, but the walk rate has been troubling. Relievers have given up a National League-leading 100 free passes in 182 2/3 innings.

Peter Lambert walked two in the bottom of the 11th on Thursday, walking in the winning run for the Athletics. He was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Black has been patient with his relievers.

"It's conversations daily, just coaching," Black said. "It's a combination of mechanical, mental. There's early work. It's trying to get the mindset in the right spot. Guys are trying. There's a little bit of a walk in their history. My challenge, even last year, is we've got to get incrementally better."

Strong starting pitching helps, too, and Colorado hopes Hudson can match Blach's 6 2/3 innings from Friday night, when he gave up two runs on five hits and a walk.

Hudson is 1-2 with a 3.58 ERA in five career starts against Philadelphia.

--Field Level Media

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