Nats' Bryce Harper batting sixth

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Matt Williams moved Bryce Harper back to sixth in the batting order Saturday, one day after hitting him second.

"Bryce is a little tick off (his timing)," Williams said before the game. "We certainly want to get him going. He needs at-bats. Yesterday I thought, we get him an opportunity to potentially get some good fastballs to hit."

The left-handed hitting Harper went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout on Saturday. He went 0-for-4 Friday against Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel in Washington's 7-2 loss.

Since his return, Harper is 4-for-18 with an RBI and two runs scored.

"He's a little jumpy still, so he's continuing to work on it," Williams said. "We'll get him back down to sixth today and let him go."

Cubs right-hander Carlos Villanueva, forced to start Saturday in place of Jeff Samardzija, whose trade to the A's was confirmed earlier in the day,was pulled after the first four Nationals reached base in the third inning. He was charged with four runs on five hits..

Harper, who missed 57 games because of a torn ligament in his left thumb, hit sixth against a trio of Colorado left-handers in his first three games back this week.

Washington won all three, averaging six runs per game.

"I think it's just lack of at-bats," Williams said of Harper's struggles. "You take that time off it's difficult. He'll be fine, he'll get it and it'll come quickly.

"Yesterday he was a little jumpy, and I can understand with that guy (Hammel), because he's got really good stuff."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.