PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Getting swept by the Cubs and Nationals made it clear to the Philadelphia Phillies there's a huge gap between them and the elite teams in the National League.
Max Scherzer had 11 strikeouts in eight sharp innings, Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and Washington beat the Phillies 7-2 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.
The Phillies have lost six straight, including a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field. They're 2-10 since a surprising 24-17 start.
"We know where we need to go. We're not there yet. We'd like to be the Cubs," manager Pete Mackanin said.
Starter Adam Morgan (1-4) allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings.
"He's got stuff but in order to be successful you can't make mistakes," Mackanin said. "You have to keep pitches down, change speeds. He has the stuff. He has the instincts to do that, but this is a result-oriented business."
Morgan has a 7.06 ERA.
"Keeping the ball down is a simple fix but easier said than done," Morgan said. "I'm making progress. It's just one or two pitches here and there. It'll get better."
The game marked perhaps the end of an era. Ryan Howard, the 2006 NL MVP and a holdover from the Phillies' glory days, is close to losing his starting job. Mackanin told Howard he plans to play rookie Tommy Joseph at first base for the next three or four games.
Joseph could stay there if he hits. Howard flied out as a pinch hitter to end the game. He's batting .153 with eight homers and 19 RBIs in the last year of a $125 million contract.
"Ryan came over to the cage and filled me in before the game," Joseph said. "It meant a lot. He didn't have to do that. He told me what Scherzer likes to throw and told me to go kick butt. He's been great. He's done so much for this team. For a guy like him to do that, it meant a lot."
Tyler Goeddel hit a two-run homer for the Phillies.
Ramos connected in the sixth, driving an opposite-field shot to right for a 5-0 lead. Espinosa hit a solo shot to left one out later.
Daniel Murphy hit a triple and scored the seventh run on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Zimmerman ripped an RBI double in the first. Ramos drove in a run with a bloop single in the fourth.
The Nationals increased their lead in the NL East to three games over the Mets. The Phillies fell under .500 (26-27) for the first time since April 24.
NEW MAN IN TOWN
The Phillies acquired OF/INF Jimmy Paredes from Toronto for cash. Paredes was 4 for 15 for Toronto. He had a career-high 10 homers, 17 doubles and 42 RBIs for Baltimore last season. INF Emmanuel Burriss was designated for assignment to make room for Paredes, who struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance.
Phillies: LF/3B Cody Asche was 0 for 4 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's batting .200 while working his way back from an oblique strain.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-7, 4.07) starts the opener of a four-game series against Milwaukee on Thursday night. RHP Chase Anderson (2-6, 5.00) takes the mound for the Brewers.