By Sam Bush

Nick Pivetta gave up nine hits and four runs in five innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Phillies 4-2 at the Bank.

The Phillies (12-16) have lost four straight and seven of their last eight games.

“Another close game,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “We just didn’t push enough runs across. Pivetta had good stuff coming out of his hand. He just had poor location.”

The 24-year-old Pivetta made his major league debut last Sunday, allowing two runs in five innings in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But he struggled early in that start. The Dodgers got five hits and two runs in the first two innings.

Pivetta again struggled in the early innings.

Pivetta allowed four straight singles in the first inning that produced one run.

“I got behind some guys early,” he said, “and that kind of hurt me. They put some hits on balls. I felt like I had command of the strike zone in that first inning they just some swings on balls.”

He gave up a solo home run to opposing pitcher Stephen Strasburg in the second inning. Strasburg hit a 1-2 fastball 404 feet into the center field bleachers.

It was bad enough that Pivetta gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher. It was inexcusable that it came with two strikes on Strasburg.

Pivetta’s only easy inning came in the fourth when he retired the side in order. But Nationals hitters Ryan Zimmerman (above) and Anthony Rendon belted back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth to give Washington a 4-0 lead.

With starting pitcher Aaron Nola still recovering from a back injury, Pivetta figures to get at least one more major league start and probably more.

“I’m settling in, but I have to be better,” Pivetta said. “I have to get to that sixth, seventh and eighth inning. It is my second start. I’ll give myself a little bit of a break, but what I did (Friday) doesn’t really show who I am.”