ATLANTA — Aaron Nola wanted to finish what he started Thursday night, but the Philadelphia Phillies veteran knew he was on a short leash as he walked to the mound to begin the bottom of the ninth inning at Truist Park.
"I always want to throw a complete game, right?" he said. "But I'm glad the more innings I can throw, the better. The win obviously is huge. It's definitely more important."
Nola struck out 10 batters while holding the Atlanta Braves scoreless into the ninth inning for his first victory since opening day, leading the Phillies to a 4-1 victory that prevented the World Series champions from posting their first three-game winning streak this season.
Philadelphia had lost each of Nola's previous eight starts, but he had a 3.69 ERA over that stretch. He did little wrong against the Braves, allowing one run and five hits in 8 1/3 innings.
Nola (2-4) had lost four straight starts at Truist Park and entered with a 6.60 ERA with eight homers allowed over his previous six starts in Atlanta.
"It's a tough place to play," Nola said. "They've got a good team over there, a good fan base, but to come out with a split going to New York is pretty good. We're tied with Atlanta now."
The Braves and Phillies are both 21-24 and in second place in the National League East standings, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets, who are trying to end Atlanta's reign after four straight division titles.
Atlanta hasn't been this late into a season without a three-game winning streak since 2001.
Nola has 74 strikeouts this season, tied for the most in the majors with Shane McClanahan of the American League's Tampa Bay Rays. Thursday marked the eighth time in his MLB career that he struck out at least 10 batters and did not issue a walk. He reached double-digit strikeouts for the 23rd time in his career.
"We know facing Nola, if he's on, he's rough," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He can locate, speed you up, slow you down, the whole thing. Looking back we had one real good opportunity all night when we had first and third."
Nola struck out Matt Olson with runners on first and third to end the third and retired the next seven batters he faced. Olson doubled with two outs in the sixth before Nola retired Travis d'Arnaud on a grounder.
In the ninth, Nola struck out Austin Riley before giving up a double to Olson that chased him. Nola, who threw 75 of 109 pitches for strikes, fell two outs shy of the fourth complete game and third shutout of his career.
"He kept his pitch count really down," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.
Corey Knebel got the final two outs in relief. After retiring d'Arnaud on a grounder, Knebel threw a wild pitch that scored Olson. William Contreras walked, and Adam Duvall struck out to end it.
The Braves lacked two potent bats with injuries sidelining outfielders Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna, and their absences were felt as the team put just five runners in scoring position.
Atlanta starter Kyle Wright (4-3) retired his first six batters faced before JT Realmuto's home run put the Philles ahead. It was Realmuto's third homer of the year and traveled 414 feet.
The Phillies looked as if they would put together a big inning after that. Rhys Hoskins' single loaded the bases with no out, but Wright escaped the jam by striking out Alec Bohm and getting Bryce Harper to ground into a double play.
Harper, the two-time NL MVP who entered with a .545 average, five homers, nine doubles and 13 RBIs in his prior 10 road games, finished 1-for-4. He singled in the eighth and scored from first on Nick Castellanos' double to make it 4-0.
Wright retired 14 straight batters before Kyle Schwarber walked and Realmuto was hit by a pitch in the seventh. Wright was charged with three hits and three runs after Will Smith gave up Odúbel Herrera's two-run double in the seventh.
Wright had gone 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in his previous two career starts and one relief appearance against Philadelphia.
He has received just 16 total runs of support in his nine starts this season and has never gotten more than three runs to work with in an outing.
"This team is too good not to go on a stretch or a run," he said. "We've got too much talent not to go on a run."
Acuña missed his second straight game with a grade 1 strain in his right quadriceps, but Snitker said he looked good working with the strength and conditioning staff.
"That's a good sign," Snitker said. "He seems to be moving around nice. I think it's more about firing up the running."
Snitker added that Acuña will not play Friday, when Atlanta opens a three-game series against the visiting Miami Marlins.
Ozuna was scratched with lower abdominal tightness 45 minutes before the first pitch and was available as a pinch-hitter. Orlando Arcia took Ozuna's spot in left. Snitker said Ozuna, who was on deck when the game ended, will play Friday.