Owings, who was Arizona’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2006, was added to the 25-man roster on Thursday. He was 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA in six spring training appearances after going 16-2 with a 3.33 ERA last season in 27 minor-league starts.
“He’s probably more mature than his years,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of the 25-year-old right-hander. “He’s got a competitive side that doesn’t get sidetracked. He’s respectful of everything but not in awe of anything.”
Arizona (2-2) opened the series against Washington (1-3) with a 4-3 victory on Thursday. The Nationals have been outscored 8-0 in the first innings of their four games this season—overall, the team has been outscored 28-15.
“It seems like if we just get rid of that first inning,” Washington center fielder Ryan Church said, “we’ll be all right.”
It didn’t help the Nationals that starter Jason Bergmann struggled early, walking six and needing 50 pitches to get out of the first inning. By then he had given up a two-run single to Chris Young and walked in Connor Jackson with the bases loaded to make it 3-0.
New Washington first baseman Dmitri Young homered and a fielder’s choice by Brian Schneider made it 4-3 in the seventh, but the Nationals were held to just one hit over the final two innings, finishing 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Melvin was disappointed his team couldn’t build on its lead.
“We’ve got to add on when we’ve got them on the ropes,” he said.
Jerome Williams will make his first start with the Nationals. The 25-year-old right-hander spent the previous four seasons with San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs and has a 23-24 record with a 4.03 ERA in 70 appearances including 65 starts.
Last season, he was 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA in five appearances before the Cubs optioned him in April to Triple-A Iowa, where he was 5-8 with a 4.76 ERA.
“He is only 25 years old. He has had some success in the big leagues,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said on the team’s official Web site. “We are trying to find as much pitching as we can. If we can get them back to what their potential is, instead of having it one year, they could be long-term.”
Williams is 4-3 with a 3.24 ERA in eight career starts against the Diamondbacks.