Certainly, Oswalt didn't help his own cause by allowing five runs, four earned, and seven hits over six innings.
He also walked two and hit two batters.
Carlos Ruiz, who caught Oswalt for the first time, said the righthander the Phillies acquired Thursday in a deal with Houston got in trouble by leaving some pitches over the plate. Ruiz indicated it may take a couple games before he and Oswalt work in sync.
"It was his location," Ruiz said. "There were a lot of pitches on the plate. That's the first time that I caught him, and his stuff is real good. It was the first time I caught him, and the next time we'll come back with a different idea. During the game I was trying to figure out how he likes to pitch in a game.
"Sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes you get it right away. From what I saw it might take a little longer. But there will be a next time."
Ruiz also factored in Oswalt's hectic travel day as a reason why he wasn't at his best.
While most of Oswalt's wounds were self inflicted, he got little help from his new teammates.
The usually reliable defense broke down in the third inning when the Phillies botched a bunt. There were Nationals on first and second when Adam Kennedy dropped a bunt toward third base. Ruiz said he had a double play in mind when he pounced on the ball and threw it to third base.
"The trouble was, nobody was there," manager Charlie Manuel said.
The gaffe belonged to third baseman Greg Dobbs, who charged the ball rather than remain near third base. Dobbs accepted blame for the play.
"It was a real short bunt," Ruiz said. "I was trying to get a double play right there because the ball was so close to me, and I had plenty of time to throw to third base. But I didn't see that he wasn't there."
The error went to Ruiz, and the Nats went on to score two runs in the inning to take a 3-0 lead. One of them was unearned.
Meantime, the Phillies, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped, managed only a Jayson Werth home run off righthander Craig Stammon, who went into the game 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA.
Halladay and Hamels have been on the mound more frequently than they care when the Phillies' offense goes flat. The Phillies have average 2.25 runs in Halladay's eight losses. They have scored three-or-fewer runs in five of Hamels' seven losses.
The Phillies played as if the division title came attached to Oswalt's right arm. It won't be as easy as that.
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.