Nola pitched six scoreless innings, Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez homered, and the Phillies beat the San Diego Padres 5-1 on Saturday night.
The Phillies had been shut out in their previous two games and went 18 consecutive innings without scoring at Petco Park, dating back to last season, before they put two on the board in the first inning.
"Anytime you are able to jump on the opposition early with a guy like Aaron Nola on the mound it gives you a lot of confidence," manager Gabe Kapler said.
Nola (13-3) struck out five, gave up four hits and lowered his ERA to 2.28 as the Phillies moved one game ahead of second-place Atlanta in the NL East.
Franco blasted a 2-0 fastball from Walker Lockett (0-3) into the second balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field in the fourth inning to put the Phillies up 3-0.
Hernandez hit his career-high 10th homer in the fifth, and Carlos Santana followed with an RBI groundout to score Rhys Hoskins, making it 5-0 and chasing Lockett. The rookie allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"I think the story of the game for him is when he was ahead in the count, he won the at-bat," Padres manager Andy Green said of Lockett. "When he was behind in the count, they won the at-bat."
The Phillies went ahead in the first on Nick Williams' RBI triple and Asdrubal Cabrera's run-scoring double.
"We're playing as a team, we're playing as a whole," Nola said. "Guys are coming up clutch throughout the whole team."
The Padres got their only run in the seventh after reliever Austin Davis surrendered a triple to Cory Spangenberg and a walk. Victor Arano came in and allowed Manuel Margot's sacrifice fly before retiring the next two batters.
Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez blanked the Padres the rest of the way.
"I think our starting pitching has taken real steps forward from where they were at the beginning of the season, and maybe the bullpen has been even better than we thought it was going to be," Kapler said.
Robert Stock, Phil Maton and Trey Wingenter combined to pitch 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for San Diego.
Padres: Wil Myers, on the 10-day disabled with a left foot contusion, will play third base Sunday during a rehab assignment at Single-A Lake Elsinore. Myers was an All-Star first baseman in 2015 and began this season as an outfielder.
"I don't think we'd ask him to play third base in the minors if we had absolutely no intention of him ever manning that position in the big leagues," Green said.
Phillies: RHP Jake Arrieta (9-6, 3.11 ERA) starts Sunday's series finale. He pitched eight scoreless innings in his previous start, a no-decision.
Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (5-6, 3.70) will make his first career start against the Phillies.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Franco's solo shot extends Phillies' lead
Maikel Franco pulls a solo homer to deep left field in the top of the fourth inning against San Diego.