WASHINGTON (AP)—Scott Olsen(notes) watched Washington manager Manny Acta stroll to the mound in the eighth inning and figured his day was done. With the two down and the Nationals ahead 4-1, Olsen had walked two hitters to bring the potential tying run to the plate.
Imagine Olsen’s surprise when he didn’t get the hook.
“I told him to tell all these people to save their applause because you’re getting out of it,” Acta said.
“It was good, it was satisfying,” said Olsen. “I did OK. I threw the ball down in the zone pretty well for the most part. I kept them off-balance with the offspeed pitches. Too many walks for my liking there, but we did pretty good.”
Olsen (2-4) allowed three runs and eight hits over 8 2-3 innings, prevailing for the first time since returning June 28 from the 15-day disabled list after a bout with left shoulder tendinitis. He walked five and struck out five.
“Today, he was the old Scott Olsen,” Acta said. “He was throwing 90 mph after 100 pitches in the ninth inning.”
The only thing that eluded Olsen was his first career complete game.
“I got a glance at my pitch count in the seventh or so, and I saw it was low, so I knew I had a chance. It kind of fell apart pretty quickly in the ninth inning. … It gave me confidence that (Acta) had confidence in me,” Olsen said.
Derek Lowe(notes) (7-7), who signed a four-year, $60 million free-agent contract with the Braves in the offseason, lost for the fourth time in his past five starts. The right-hander lasted 5 1-3 innings, allowing four runs and 10 hits.
“It’s been kind of the theme over the last four weeks. It just seems like a struggle every time out,” Lowe said. “It’s definitely been a frustrating five or six starts.”
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox isn’t overly concerned that the veteran pitcher is scuffling.
“He’s better than what he showed the last couple games,” Cox said. “”My understanding is he always has this a little bit. We’ll see what happens.”
Morgan, acquired from Pittsburgh with right-handed reliever Sean Burnett(notes) in a Tuesday trade, ended an 0-for-7 slide with his first hits as a National. He also contributed defensively, throwing out Prado trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth after missing a diving catch in left-center.
“Pitching and defense wins games,” Acta said. “(Morgan) electrifies everything.”
A two-run second made it 3-0. Cristian Guzman(notes) singled with one down and scored on Ronnie Belliard’s(notes) two-out double to center, Belliard’s first RBI since June 2. Belliard moved to third on the throw home, then scored on Olsen’s bloop single to left.
Lowe departed after loading the bases in the sixth on a Josh Bard(notes) double, a walk to Belliard and Olsen’s second single. Boone Logan(notes) relieved and got Morgan to bounce into a fielder’s choice forceout at home before Nick Johnson(notes) lined an RBI single to left for a 4-1 lead.
In the eighth, Morgan doubled home Belliard, who led off with a single and moved up on Olsen’s sacrifice bunt.
NOTES: Before the game, the Nationals recalled RHP Jason Bergmann(notes) from Triple-A Syracuse to work out of the bullpen. … Atlanta is 4-11 at Nationals Park since it opened last year. … Before going 2 for 3, Olsen had been 0 for 10 with five strikeouts. … Prado has hit safely in nine of 11 games, going 22-for-43 (.512) over that span.