Eflin dazzles, goes distance for 1st victory

Eflin dazzles, goes distance for 1st victory

PHILADELPHIA -- Zach Eflin said he felt completely confident as he stepped onto the mound in the ninth inning on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The moment finally overcame him 11 pitches later when he sealed a 5-1 victory over the Braves.

"I threw that last pitch and I was just shaking, thanking God for the opportunity to be out there," Eflin said.

Eflin needed just 92 pitches to throw a complete game for the first win of his big league career. He is the first Phillies pitcher to record a complete game for his first big league win since Mike Williams on July 5, 1992, against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He is also the first Phillies rookie to toss a complete game since Vance Worley on July 26, 2011, against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park.

"I've said it all along: Eflin is my favorite pitcher," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

It has been an impressive turnaround for Eflin, who is just five starts into his big league career. He allowed nine runs (eight earned) in just 2 2/3 innings in his big league debut on June 14 in Toronto.

Since then, Eflin has gradually improved. He has a 2.03 ERA in his last four starts.

"A lot more," Eflin said when asked how much more comfortable he feels since Toronto. "I learned a lot after that outing, unfortunately. But that was a good thing at the same time."

Eflin worked quickly and efficiently on Tuesday, benefitting from four double plays. The game lasted just two hours and eight minutes, making it the Phillies' quickest game since Sept. 27, 2013, when they played the Braves in just 2:07.

"I was really just trying to stay ahead, attack with my sinker and get weak contact," Eflin said. "We rolled a lot of double plays, which was huge. When you have guys like Freddy [Galvis] and Cesar [Hernandez] up the middle, it helps a lot."

Phillies turn a double play

Eflin is scheduled to pitch on Sunday in Colorado, the Phillies' final game before the All-Star break. He hopes to carry more good feelings into the second half. It is a big one for him and the rest of the Phillies' young staff, which includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. They are trying to establish themselves heading into 2017.

But Eflin can worry about those things later. On Tuesday, he just needed to savor the moment.

"I think it's a pretty cool way to get your first win," Eflin said. "It's pretty exciting."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.