PHILADELPHIA -- Jayson Werth carried his bat with him halfway down the first-base line, but when he realized his eighth-inning drive was going to be caught, he tossed it aside in anger.
Neither Werth nor Ryan Zimmerman could come through with the bases full in the frame, and the Nationals lost their second straight game to the Phillies, 4-2, at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. The loss not only pushed the Nationals six games behind the National League East-leading Braves, but the Phillies are just 1 1/2 games back of Washington for second place.
The scoring chance in the eighth was the Nationals' best against Cole Hamels, who was dominant all night. With the Phillies' three-run lead in jeopardy, Hamels struck out Zimmerman on three pitches. And with the crowd on its feet, Werth sent a drive to center field, but it was tracked down by Ben Revere near the warning track.
"We had the right guys in there, we just didn't get it done," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The out was the 24th and final one of Hamels' outing. The left-hander allowed just one run -- a solo homer to Werth in the second -- on six hits and struck out four in his eight frames. And though Werth got the best of him earlier in the game, Hamels said it made him more careful of where to locate his pitches when he faced the former Phillie later in the game.
"He's been here, he's seen me a ton, I've seen him a ton," Hamels said. "It's a serious guessing game and a serious chess match we have between us."
The Nationals have lost the first two of a four-game set in Philadelphia, and both times they have been puzzled by a left-hander. John Lannan tossed eight scoreless innings on Monday, and they have to face another tough lefty, Cliff Lee, on Wednesday.
"Yesterday, Lannan was tough with the offspeed [stuff]. Today, Cole worked off the fastball," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who was 1-for-4. "And we just missed some pitches. Everyone in that lineup missed some pitches."
Werth's homer gave the Nationals the lead, but starter Taylor Jordan and the team's defense could not make it stick.
The Phillies knotted the game in the fourth inning when Domonic Brown singled home Chase Utley. Werth almost threw out Utley at the plate, but his throw one-hopped to catcher Kurt Suzuki, who could not cleanly apply the tag.
In the sixth, the Phillies got to Jordan, who allowed back-to-back singles to start the frame. Then on an Utley grounder, LaRoche's throw to second hit Jimmy Rollins, skipped into the outfield and allowed a run to score.
Shortstop Ian Desmond said there was initially a window for LaRoche to deliver the ball, but Rollins made a heads-up slide, which was costly for the Nationals.
"It was unbelievable baserunning," Desmond said. "That's really good wherewithal. There's probably things that we could do differently, but at the same time, he did a very good job of baserunning right there."
Jordan allowed a total of four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings in his third career start. After LaRoche's error, he surrendered a two-run double to Michael Young that gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead and sent Jordan to the showers.
Though the double Young smoked to right-center was the most costly hit Jordan allowed, the righty said he put the pitch where he wanted it.
"Inside fastball, he got his hands inside," Jordan said. "I think that was the only inside pitch I threw him all night, and he just hit it."
The Nationals scored a second run in the ninth inning on a pinch-hit RBI double from Wilson Ramos, but that was all they got against fill-in closer Antonio Bastardo. Newly acquired outfielder Scott Hairston was the only National to have more than one hit, but he popped out to end the game.
The Nationals entered the series fresh off a four-game sweep of the Padres, in which they averaged eight runs per contest. However, in two games against the Phillies, the Nationals have scored a total of four runs.
LaRoche called it a "frustrating two days," but he said the Nationals cannot dwell on the Phillies gaining on them in the standings.
"We're not in first place, so a win is a win," LaRoche said. "Whoever we're playing right now, we need to gain some ground."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.