PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) Right-hander Aaron Nola looked sharp in his third spring outing, pitching into the fifth inning of Philadelphia's 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
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.
Phillies: Nola, who went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts last season, threw 68 pitches. He came out of the outing feeling good about the progress he made after his previous two starts.
''The breaking ball felt really good today. That's what I need to get to where I want to be,'' he said, adding that his changeup felt better, too.
Rays: Smyly threw 60 pitches, 45 for strikes, and said he's feeling confident and ''very comfortable'' on the mound.
Phillies: RHP Yoervis Medina pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing one hit and striking out, before leaving with an appraent elbow injury. ''He felt something pop,'' Mackanin said, adding he didn't know the severity of the injury. ''We're going to get it checked out.''
Rays: 2B Logan Forsythe left the game during the first inning after being hit by a pitch in the left forearm. INF/OF Steve Pearce remains sidelined with a sore right calf. Manager Kevin Cash said Pearce is expected to return to the lineup as the designated hitter on Thursday.
The Rays released a 34-man travel roster for next week's trip to Havana to face the Cuban National team. LHP Matt Moore will be the starting pitcher in the March 22 exhibition. The roster includes 14 pitchers, although Cash said only eight or nine are likely to be active for the game. The only notable players not making the trip are pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Erasmo Ramirez. Odorizzi will pitch in a minor league game on March 21 and Ramirez is scheduled to start March 23, the first game after the Rays return. The travel roster includes one prospect who's not on the major league club's 40-man roster - Cuban Dayron Varona, who hasn't been back to his homeland since leaving in a boat with his mother three years ago.
The Rays optioned LHP Blake Snell, INF Ryan Brett and RHPs Jacob Faria and Taylor Guerrieri to unspecified minor league teams. LHPs Justin Marks and Adam Wilk, RHPs Eddie Gamboa, Adam Reifer and Jaime Schultz; C Jake DePew; INFs Daniel Robertson and Patrick Leonard, and OFs Johnny Field and Dayron Varona were reassigned to minor league camp.
Phillies: After an off day Wednesday, Philadelphia faces the Rays again at home Thursday. RHP Vince Velasquez is the scheduled starter.
Rays: Tampa Bay is also off Wednesday, and has not announced the pitchers scheduled to work against the Phillies on Thursday. RHP Odorizzi will pitch Wednesday in Port Charlotte against Red Sox minor leaguers.