Harper has been out since he slipped on a wet base and hyperextended his left knee on Aug. 12. The five-time All-Star has missed 42 games, and Washington hoped to get him back in the lineup on Monday to prep for the postseason. Instead he spent much of the day receiving treatment for flulike symptoms.
He could be back Tuesday night.
"Possibly. We just have to see how he feels," manager Dusty Baker said. "You hate to waste these days, but you also hate to push him out there when he's not ready. Hopefully, it's just an overnight thing."
Philadelphia would be an ideal place for Harper to return. In 38 games at Citizens Bank Park, Harper is batting .296 with 12 homers.
Harper was in the clubhouse after the game but did not speak to reporters.
Odubel Herrera homered for the Phillies, who have been playing better of late but entered one game ahead of the Giants for the worst record in baseball.
"The bats have been silent for a few days," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We just couldn't get anything going."
Cole (3-5) struck out five and walked two while giving up six hits.
"He stayed out of the middle of the plate," Baker said.
Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances with the Nationals since being acquired from Oakland on July 16.
Aaron Nola (12-11) allowed Taylor's two-run drive in the second but otherwise pitched well for Philadelphia. He struck out nine, walked two and allowed five hits in six innings.
"He pitched extremely well," Mackanin said. "When he pitches, we all expect to win."
Taylor's 17th homer this season, a 398-foot blast to left-center, gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead. The center fielder, pushed into a starting role when Adam Eaton tore his ACL in April, will be expected to continue producing in the playoffs.
"We need that," Baker said.
Cole kept the Phillies off the board until Herrera snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a solo shot, his 14th, on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the fourth.
Werth's eighth-inning groundout plated Zimmerman to put Washington on top 3-1.
The Nationals struck out 13 times.
Doolittle has pitched to a 0.86 ERA with the Nationals while holding opponents to a .155 average.
PHILLY SLUMPING I
The Phillies have lost 23 of their last 30 to Washington.
PHILLY SLUMPING II
Rookie Philadelphia slugger Rhys Hoskins went 0 for 4 and has one hit in his past 15 at-bats.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-7, 2.68) looks to extend his success in Philadelphia, where he is 6-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 12 starts. Gonzalez, a former Phillies farmhand, has never allowed more than three earned runs at Citizens Bank Park.
Phillies: RHP Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.14) is 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA in his last two outings.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Already the owner of two American League Most Valuable Player awards by age 25, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is showing there's always room for improvement.
Two teams that looked a bit more like they hoped to look all season Thursday night will go head-to-head for the second straight game when the San Diego Padres take on the San Francisco Giants on Friday.
Bryce Harper made some strides at the plate Thursday night just as the Washington Nationals prepare to welcome the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies to town for a weekend series.
Luis Valbuena homered twice, Kole Calhoun connected for the second consecutive game and the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-5 on Thursday night.
Luis Valbuena hits a pair of homers, in the fifth and seventh innings, to increase his season total to eight home runs on the season.
Madison Bumgarner pitched eight innings of three-hit ball for his first win of the season, Mark Melancon earned his first save in a year and the San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 3-0 on Thursday night.