WASHINGTON — After the Phillies scored a total of two runs Wednesday in a doubleheader sweep by the Nationals, manager Gabe Kapler said he would get “creative” with the batting order to generate more offense.

How's this for creative?

  • Bryce Harper in the leadoff spot.
  • Rhys Hoskins batting second.
  • Jean Segura in the No. 5 hole.
  • A rare start for Maikel Franco.

Kapler tossed the batting order like a salad for Thursday night’s series finale here at Nationals Park to address a skidding offense. In particular, they miss injured Andrew McCutchen at the top of the order. Over the last 18 games, in which the Phillies are 6-12, they are batting .222 (130-for-586) and averaging 3.9 runs.

“The thought process is we feel like we’re a more successful club when we see pitches in the first inning,” Kapler said. “It doesn’t mean we have to get hits. It just means that we see some pitches. By having Harper and Hoskins at the top of the lineup, they don’t have to do anything different other than be who they normally are. And if that happens, we’re likely to see more pitches in the first inning.”

Indeed, Hoskins leads the league with 4.54 pitches per plate appearance. Harper ranks 11th with 4.17. McCutchen, who is out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, was tied for second with 4.45.

In McCutchen’s absence, Cesar Hernandez went 4-for-32 with a .222 on-base percentage in the top spot of the order, while Jean Segura went 2-for-20 with a .217 OBP and didn’t run hard after a bloop single in the first inning Wednesday night.

Harper went 10-for-46 (.217) with a .288 on-base percentage in 12 games as the Nationals’ fill-in leadoff hitter last season. He’s a .273 career hitter with a .362 OBP in 28 starts as a leadoff man.

“I’ve done in years past,” Harper said. “I mean, you lead off once during a game. More at-bats, which I like. [Kapler] asked me if I was comfortable with it, and I said, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ Just take it like any other at-bat, see some pitches, and get on base.”