PHILADELPHIA -- If he put his finger on the pulse of John Lannan, Jim Riggleman said he would be surprised to find out it quickens when he pitches against the Phillies. Therefore, the manager can't put that same finger on why Lannan is 0-10 against that team, good as it is.
"He always wants to pitch against the Phillies," said Riggleman. "He takes it head-on, gets it going for a little while, then they seem to get him.
"What are they, 10-0? That's too much for the quality of stuff John has for any club to do that. I don't have any explanation other than that they are a very good ballclub, but they just see him good or something. Most of their guys are on him good.
"As much as he is going to see the Phillies in this division, he's just got to get better than that."
Seven straight Phillies reached base on six hits and a walk as they put up six third-inning runs in Thursday night's 7-3 win, ending the Nationals' remarkable 30-for-30 run of starting pitchers going at least five innings. Lannan, in the second shortest outing of his four-year career, didn't get an out in the third, no way for his team to stand a chance against Roy Halladay, who struck out 10 as the Phils completed a sweep of three games in which the Nats never once led.
As tough as it was through the first two games for a team hitting .226 and 14th in the NL in runs scored, Washington still didn't know what desultory really meant until Lannan's pitches began elevating in the second inning.
He escaped a two-on-and-two-out jam in the second by catching Halladay's smash back up the middle. But Jimmy Rollins led off the third with a single, Shane Victorino homered down the left-field line and the deluge began.
"I saw the trend, the ball getting up in the second, there were a couple hard hit balls." said Lannan, who came into the game 2-3 with a 3.78 ERA. "The key at-bat to Victorino, the slider didn't have enough life, it just tumbled in there.
"I felt good coming into this game. The past doesn't affect the game you are about to play. Maybe a few years ago it did, but not now. That really didn't play a part in it. I was up in the zone. So they hurt me."
Brian Broderick, Todd Coffey, Henry Rodriguez and Doug Slaten settled things down, Coffey giving up the only Phillies run thereafter on a solo homer by the incandescent (8-for-11 since breaking an 0-for-35 skid on Tuesday) Raul Ibanez.
But though the Nationals got a couple runs back in the fourth when Phillies catcher Dave Sardinha couldn't get a tag down on Jayson Werth -- who was clearly beaten by Ibanez's throw after he fielded Wilson Ramos' single -- and Ian Desmond's sacrifice fly, Halladay, in winning his fifth game, turned out the lights thereafter.
"He's the best pitcher I have ever faced, and I have faced a lot of guys," said the Nats' Jerry Hairston. "You don't know what he is going to throw.
"When he threw harder, well, it was never easy but at least the ball was straighter. Now he doesn't throw anything straight. He has figured out that 92-93 [mph] is better than 97 straight and he's able to sink it and cut it.
"I know a couple years ago, Mariano Rivera helped him with his cutter at the All-Star Game and I don't really appreciate that. He was tough enough."
Certainly Halladay, who needed 110 pitches to get through seven innings, had more than enough to put away the Nats, who will be another six weeks without star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
A seemingly awakening Adam LaRoche had two more hits and Alex Cora has seven in his last 12 at-bats, but the Nationals were as overmatched as Riggleman for a reason for Lannan's strugggles against the Phillies.
"They are good professional hitters, it's not just John that they get," said the manager. "But the success of other clubs against him as opposed to the Phillies is just out of whack."
Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.