PBR - After dropping two of three in an interleague series over the weekend with Boston, the Phillies started a three-game set with the Nationals at home, but it was not exactly the way they had planned to welcome the surging Nats.

With Kyle Kendrick on the mound filling in for the injured Vance Worley, who has a bone chip in his right elbow, the bats again were unreliable after the Phils' spot starter threw seven solid innings in a 2-1 loss Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Kendrick gave up both runs on five hits and struck out four in a losing effort for the Phils (21-22). Despite the loss, he is now 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA in his last 11 starts against National League East squads.

The offense sputtered out when it mattered most, leaving 10 runners stranded and going just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Washington (25-17) starter Gio Gonzalez is quickly making a name for himself around the league, throwing nine strikeouts and allowing no runs over six innings for his sixth win - tied for the NL-lead.

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond laced a Kendrick sinker over the wall into the bushes in center during the second inning to give Washington the early 1-0 lead. Desmond's seven home runs are tops among NL shortstops.

In the fourth, Desmond drove a single to left that plated rookie outfielder Bryce Harper for his second RBI of the game to make it 2-0. Desmond ended the night 2-for-4.

That said, Kendrick was on his game for most of his outing, inducing 11 ground ball outs with that sinker and also retiring 11 straight before being pulled after seven for lefty reliever Raul Valdes. Valdes pitched two strong innings and struck out a pair.

For Washington, after closer Henry Rodriguez came in and allowed two runners to reach scoring position, Sean Burnett came in for the shaky two-out save, allowing John Mayberry, Jr. to score on a sacrifice fly from Ty Wigginton.

The Phillies are now 5 1/2 games behind the Nats, who are only a half-game behind Atlanta for first-place in the NL East.

Roy Halladay (4-3, 3.22 ERA) will look to keep rolling when he takes the hill Tuesday night in the second game of the series against the Nats. Doc will be opposed by righthander Jordan Zimmerman (2-4, 2.58 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05.

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