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Stuck on 2: Washington Nationals’ offense still idling...

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Washington’s Nationals haven’t scored more than two runs in the last three games...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies
Alex Avila and the Washington Nationals could not muster more than two runs for the third consecutive game in a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia.
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals’ seeming formula for success couldn’t be more clear or more elusive: Score more than two runs.

The Nationals fell 5-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, the third straight game and fourth in their last seven where they have scored two runs or fewer.

The Nats are 1-3 in those games.

For the season the Nationals are 5-18 when they score two runs or fewer; 19-13 when they score more than two.

But that third run this season has been as elusive as...

“It comes back to the offense. It really does,” said manager Davey Martinez on Saturday when asked if his pitchers have much margin for error.

“When you’re scoring two runs a game, the mistakes become magnified. That’s what’s kind of happening right now. Once again, our offense, we need to get going. We need to start hitting with runners on base, that’s part of the game. We got to score more runs than the other guys at the end of day.”

Against Philadelphia on Saturday, the Nats returned to their old habits of stranding men in scoring position. They were 0-for-8 with RISP, and 10 left on base.

The Nationals did score the first time they put a runner in scoring position, in the third, when Juan Soto hit a ball up the middle that go through Jean Segura’s legs, scoring Trea Turner from second.

In the fourth, Victor Robles reached and advanced to second with two out on a pair of errors by shortstop Nick Maton, but pitcher Jose Ross struck out to end the threat.

Trailing 4-2 in the seventh and eighth, the Nats missed two chances to get back in the game.

In the seventh, Turner doubled with one out, and Josh Harrison walked to put runners at first and second. But Soto took two strikes from Philadelphia reliever Sam Coonrod, then hit a ground ball straight to Segura, who started an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

In the eighth, after Josh Bell’s solo homer, Kyle Schwarber walked, Starlin Castro singled to give the Nats men at first and second with nobody out.

But Alex Avila lined out on a two-strike pitch, Robles lined out to left on the first pitch, and pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman struck out on three pitches.

”They’re playing hard, and hitting is hard,” said Martinez. “I know it, but we just got to come out and be ready to play tomorrow. I feel for these guys, I really do, because they’re trying, the effort is there.

“We got to keep grinding. Sometimes I feel like we’re really close to busting out of it, seeing good at bats, today just wasn’t that day.”