PHILADELPHIA -- It hadn't been long that the Nationals had the luxury of playing with their ideal starting lineup this month. And that pipe dream was put on hold yet again Friday night in a 4-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Without All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond and cleanup hitter Michael Morse, the first-place Nats managed just six hits -- the only real offense coming on a pinch-hit two-run homer from Tyler Moore in the seventh inning -- against Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies.
It was just Washington's fourth loss in its last 18 road games.
"It was definitely a blow for us, but it's kind of what we've been dealing with all year," Moore said. "Guys stepping up in different situations. Just another day. We're hoping Mikey's hand is fine and Desi's fine. We'll see tomorrow."
The Nats may be short-handed for the foreseeable future. Morse, who came out of the game after he was hit in the right hand by Kendrick in the first inning, has no broken bones, but is badly bruised and is likely to miss Saturday's contest. Desmond, who tweaked his right knee in Wednesday's loss to Atlanta, was scratched late due to a mild hamstring strain that could sideline him for the entire series.
"It changes the game a little bit," manager Davey Johnson said. "But we had the right guys up at the right time, just didn't get it done. Tomorrow's another day."
This comes after Desmond was recently reinstated from the disabled list with an oblique injury that kept him out for nearly a month. The team also was without outfielder Jayson Werth for about two months. Morse spent time on the DL as well.
On Friday, the rest of the lineup didn't do much to support starter Edwin Jackson who, admittedly, did not have his best stuff. He labored through six innings and was fortunate to get out of the outing with just three runs allowed on the seven hits and two walks the Phillies mustered.
"That's part of the game," Jackson said of working through not having his best stuff. "I'm not looking for any extra credit for battling. As a pitcher, that's our job -- to go out and try to keep the game close."
For the most part, he did. Phillies leadoff man Jimmy Rollins singled and scored on a Chase Utley RBI single in the first. Rollins widened the margin to 3-0 with a two-out, two-run, opposite-field single to left in the fourth.
Jackson has just two wins since July 21 despite posting a 3.30 ERA (16 earned runs in 43 2/3 innings) in that span of seven starts.
Pinch-hitting for Jackson in the seventh, Moore hit an 0-1 mistake from Kendrick -- one of few on the night for the right-hander, who saw a scoreless innings streak snapped at 21, but has held the Nats to five earned runs in 18 2/3 innings this year -- over the left-field wall.
Kendrick allowed just the two runs on four hits while striking out three and walking two for his third win in a row. The Phillies, 18 1/2 games behind the Nats in the National League East, evened the season series at 5-5.
"We want to beat these guys," Kendrick said. "I'm sure they're feeling pretty good where they're at. It would be nice to sweep them, you know? Why not?"
Philadelphia tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when Utley walked, stole second and scored on a Ryan Howard single. The Nats' threatened one last time in the top of that inning, when Ryan Zimmerman walked and Roger Bernadina singled with one out, but Adam LaRoche struck out swinging against Raul Valdes and B.J. Rosenberg struck out Werth to end the inning.