by Tyler Radecki, Staff Writer

Up until the fifth inning Wednesday night, the Nationals were looking good against the Philadelphia Phillies. While they weren’t generating much offense, Jason Marquis had kept the Phillies off the board. But in that fifth inning, everything the Nats had accomplished to that point unraveled, leading to seven runs and another loss to the division bullies.

The 7-4 final drops the Nationals record to 14-16 in 2011.

After the Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the top of inning off an Adam LaRoche RBI double, Marquis (L, 3-1, 3.66) surrendered three runs on a homer, three singles and a walk, but escaped without further damage.

He then started the sixth inning, but was pulled after 4 batters, one run, and no outs. By the end of the inning, the Phillies were up 7-1 and cruising to a win.

The Phillies’ starter, Vance Worley, may not be one of the “Big Four” in Philadelphia, but he did a fine job replacing Roy Oswalt on Wednesday, notching a career-high seven strikeouts in six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. It's indicative of the Nats struggle on offense right now that they couldn't even generate an attack against a completely unknown pitcher such as Worley. 

The offense made a little noise when Danys Baez came in relief for the Phillies in the ninth inning, as Laynce Nix and Matt Stairs singled (Stairs’ first hit as a National) before Danny Espinosa delivered a three-run shot to make the game 7-4. But it was too little, too late for the Nats as they fell again to the team they consider their biggest measuring stick.

Two losses, and the prospect of meeting Roy Halladay tonight is not a good way to start this 10-day, nine-game road trip.

THE GOOD: Alex Cora had a great night offensively, going 3-4 from the 8-spot in the order. His average is up to .227 on the year.

THE BAD: Jason Marquis was cruising through the first four innings, but his final two innings did him in. Three runs in the fifth and four in the sixth blew the game wide open, and the Nats could never recover. His ERA on the year is still just 3.66.

THE UGLY: Ian Desmond had his eighth error of the year, overthrowing LaRoche in the sixth. The throwing error would lead to the final two runs for the Phillies.

THE STATS: 9 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts, 1 error, 2-7 with RISP, and 14 LOB.