PHILADELPHIA -- It couldn't have been the rare air of the Nationals at .500, because that disappeared three games ago. But suddenly Todd Coffey's nose began bleeding before he pitched to Ryan Howard in the fourth inning Thursday night, necessitating a delay for treatment.

"Sometimes it does that when it goes from cold to warm weather," said Coffey. "But never had anything like that in a game. Happened in the bullpen, though."

For the record, you can go to your nose while standing on the rubber and not be charged with a ball, unlike going to your mouth. Coffey who had just given up a single to Placido Polanco, stopped the bleeding literally and figuratively, striking out Howard and John Mayberry Jr. to end the inning.

"Yeah," Coffey said. "[From now on], I'll have to punch myself in the nose and have [trainer Lee Kuntz] come on out."

Riggleman, Eckstein give hitters pep talk

PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Riggleman felt time could not be wasted, even if Roy Halladay loomed Thursday night to waste a perfectly good pep talk the Nationals manager and hitting coach Rick Eckstein called with the team's struggling hitters during the afternoon.

"You like to have those meetings when you are facing an emergency starter," smiled Riggleman said with a smile.

The Nationals, who were swept by the Phillies and Halladay hours later, aren't exactly a laugh riot these days, but Riggleman was clear that no riot act was read once the door to his office was closed.

"We just wanted to get all our hitters together with Rick and myself and just let them know the confidence level we have in them, to [tell them to] just keep pushing and doing all the little things we do defensively, running the bases and all that kind of stuff.

"Let's get it going offensively. But in the meantime, let's go win a ballgame regardless of whether it's 2-1 or 10-9."

"I think they were receptive. Some spoke up.

"Those kinds of things you want to have a little impact but it always comes down to the 60-feet, six-inch battle that takes place every night and every pitch."

All Riggleman and Eckstein were asking from their hitters was to continue that fight.

"It was positive," said Jerry Hairston Jr. "We really have a bunch of guys who don't get too down or too high. We battle."

Ankiel remains out; Morse pinch-hits

PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals center fielder Rick Ankiel missed a third consecutive game Thursday night with a sprained wrist, and is likely to be out at least one more.

"If not two more," said manager Jim Riggleman. "He is not taking batting practice."

Left fielder Michael Morse, who reported some knee pain just before first pitch on Wednesday night and was a last-minute lineup scratch, also didn't start Thursday night, but did pinch-hit, flying out to center in the eighth.

Jerry Hairston Jr., who fouled a ball off his foot Wednesday and was hobbling in the clubhouse, was back in center field.

"Came in today and said he's good to go," said Riggleman, who again put Alex Cora, who had three hits on Wednesday night, at third, this time second in the batting order.

"Roy [Halladay] is just so tough against right-handers, you just want to run as many left-handers up there as early as you can," said the manager.

Worth noting

The Nationals have lost their last seven in Philadelphia and had won just three of their last 24 at Citizens Bank Park, going back to 2008. ... The Nats are errorless in their last seven games, testimony to Riggleman's praise that they have not been taking their hitting problems to the field with them. However, shortstop Ian Desmond threw wildly on an attempted double-play relay Wednesday night, helping the Phillies put the game away with a four-run seventh.