Olsen looked like he didn't skip a beat in two months.  (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

THE RESULT:  Scott Olsen has been away from Nationals Park since May 22, when he went on the D.L. with weakness in his surgically repaired shoulder.  Thursday afternoon, it looked like he never left the place.

Olsen, making his first start in over two months, went six good innings and led the Washington Nationals over their division rival Atlanta Braves 5-3, before an annouced crowd of 30,263 -- though many left during an hour and a half rain delay.

Olsen (W, 3-2, 3.67) gave up three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and two walks in six innings.  He struck out just one and gave up a home run, Matt Diaz' mammoth two-run shot.  But he was in control for the most part, getting several ground ball outs.  The top three hitters in the Braves order went 0-for-9 with seven ground outs against Olsen.

"He kept the ball down good, was confident with his pitches," said Nats Manager Jim Riggleman in his post-game.  "He stayed with what he tries to do, he pitched to contact..he had a very good outing."

The left-hander got support from some likely -- and one unlikely -- sources.

Ian Desmond and Adam Dunn both hit solo home runs; Desmond his seventh off Braves starter Derek Lowe (L, 10-9), and Dunn's 24th, a blast to the Red Porch seats, off Takashi Saito in the eighth inning.

Desmond connects for his seventh homer of the season.  (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

But the big hit came from backup catcher Wil Nieves.  With one out and two on in the fourth, Nieves (entering the day at .183) laced a single past the outstretched glove of second baseman Martin Prado, plating both Michael Morse (1-for-3, HBP) and Desmond.

Nieves has reached base safely in all of his six starts in July.

Wil Nieves got the job done in the 5-3 win.  (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

Play was halted after the Braves batted in the sixth inning as the teams waited out a summer thunderstorm.  When they picked things back up, the bullpen took over for Olsen, and as they have all series, got the job done.

Sean Burnett, Drew Storen and Matt Capps (26th save) all pitched a scoreless inning to keep the Braves in check.  For the series, the bullpen threw 11 2/3 scoreless innings, not even including Miguel Batista's five innings in his emergency start.

Michael Morse was hit by a pitch ahead of Nieves' two-run single. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

THE GOOD:  Lots to go around, but Olsen gets the nod.  He threw 52 of his 81 pitches for strikes and limited the damage when he did run into trouble.  Multi-hit games from Dunn and Desmond were nice too.

THE BAD:  Adam Kennedy went 0-for-4 in the two hole.

THE UGLY:  This one goes to the official scorer today.  Desmond had a hot one-hopper glance off his glove on a backhand attempt that was ruled an error, his league-leaing 24th.  There's not another scorer that would have given an error on that play to the home shortstop.  And of course, that runner eventually scored.

THE STATS:  The Nats struck out seven times and walked once.  They were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.

NEXT GAME:  Washington hosts the Philadelphia Phillies -- and legions of their fans -- this weekend for a three-game set.  Craig Stammen (2-4, 5.50) will face newly-acquired Roy Oswalt (6-12. 3.42 for HOU) at 7:05 pm.  Oswalt was traded to the Phillies earlier in the day for LHP J.A. Happ and two minor leaguers.

NATS NOTES:  As expected, the Nationals placed Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day DL before today's game to activate Olsen for the start.  Strasburg is feeling much better after experiencing trouble warming up for his start on Tuesday, but the team is being cautious with him. 

Since they planned to skip his next start anyway, and with a need to carry an extra reliever this week, the team retroactively put him on the DL to his last start.  He'll be eligible to return Aug. 6.