Nationals starter Tanner Roark has not pitched since July 4 because of two rainouts during the team's series against the Orioles.
To stay prepared for his next scheduled start -- against the Phillies on Sunday -- Roark pitched out of the bullpen for a few games.
In his latest big league outing, against the Cubs, Roark went seven innings but allowed four runs on nine hits in a 7-2 loss. Chicago scored its first run in the first inning, and the Cubs did not look back.
"[An] extra day's rest and [Roark] was a little bit up, not quite as crisp," manager Matt Williams said. "They got a lot of base hits on him. He kept it to four [runs], just kind of up and middle today. Breaking ball wasn't quite as good. Changeup wasn't quite as good."
Roark is not alone in his struggles. His opponent on the mound on Sunday, Kyle Kendrick, won his previous start -- but that does not necessarily mean he pitched well.
Kendrick gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Brewers at Miller Park on Tuesday. He allowed 11 hits and gave up three home runs, but his offense had his back, scoring nine against Brewers starter Wily Peralta.
The Phillies are on the rise, though. They have won five of their past six, so Roark will have to be on his game if he wants to collect his first win since June 22.
"I have to execute the pitches that I want and shake off whenever I want," Roark said. "Not just throw whatever the catcher is putting down. That has been the biggest thing for me."
Phillies: Club trying to make midseason run
Although the Phillies have been at the bottom of the National League East standings for much of the past month, they are looking to make a quick turnaround in July.
The Phillies are 6-6 in the month and won five straight before Saturday's 5-3 loss to the first-place Nationals. During that streak, they have moved from 12 games out of first place on July 6 to nine out after Saturday's loss.
"The guys have shown some resilience of battling back," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We've had some of our better series against some of the better teams. So it's a little ironic. We've matched up against some of the better teams in certain series. But they've also, at this point, been resilient as far as bouncing back after a miserable first part of a road trip and come back and end the trip on a good note."
The biggest improvement in the Phillies' recent string of wins has been a productive lineup. The Phillies scored nine runs in two of the five wins, with six runs in another.
"It's been the whole lineup with getting guys on base and then different players in different spots coming up with the big hit, driving the ball, scoring more than one run in an inning," Sandberg said.
"It's been different guys up and down the lineup, so that's all positive. I also really see the guys battling in at-bats, lengthening at-bats and often times, turning the count around, and through that, getting a pitch that they can handle later on in the at-bat. … The guys have also done the little. things. Moving a runner up a base, getting them in from third base."
Nationals: Desmond looks to keep hot streak going
Shortstop Ian Desmond is off to a good start to July, hitting .314 (11-for-35) since the month began. If history is an indicator, that will continue through Sunday's game.
Desmond has faced Kendrick more than all but two pitchers he has faced, and he is hitting .405 (15-for-37) off the Phillies' Sunday starter -- his second-best average against pitchers against whom he has 20 or more at-bats.
Desmond went 2-for-5 in the Nationals' win on Saturday night and is hitting .243 with a .725 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
• The Nationals' 10-inning win on Saturday was only their third extra-inning win this season. They are now 3-8 in extra-inning games.
Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.