WASHINGTON — Scott Olsen returned from the disabled list to win his first appearance in more than two months, Adam Dunn and Ian Desmond each homered and doubled, and the last-place Washington Nationals beat the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves 5-3 Thursday in a game interrupted 11/2 hours by rain.
Olsen (3-2) gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits in six innings before a thunderstorm caused the delay. The Nationals made room on the roster for the left-hander by putting rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg on the DL for the first time.
Backup catcher Wil Nieves bounced a single up the middle off Derek Lowe (10-9) in the fourth inning, breaking a 2-all tie. Lowe went five innings, giving up four runs and five hits, including Desmond's solo homer in the second.
Dunn hit his 24th homer in the eighth off Takashi Saito.
The Braves lost two of three games in the series, dropping to 19-19 against NL East opponents, their worst mark against any division this season.
A few seconds before Lowe threw the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth, a lightning bolt came down not far from the stadium, followed by a loud thunderclap. Play continued until Olsen got Melky Cabrera to ground out to second for the last out of the top of the sixth.
Moments later, a tarp was pulled across the field as heavy rain fell and thunder reverberated off the empty blue seats at Nationals Park. When play resumed, reliever Peter Moylan replaced Lowe.
Olsen departed in favor of Sean Burnett, who combined with Drew Storen and closer Matt Capps for three scoreless innings of relief. Capps earned his 26th save in 30 chances.
On a muggy day, with the temperature at 92 degrees for the rare 12:35 p.m. start, the Nationals scored twice in the second, when Dunn led off with a ground-rule double and came home on Michael Morse's groundout. Desmond then delivered his seventh homer, an opposite-field drive over the out-of-town scoreboard.
Atlanta tied it on Matt Diaz's two-run homer in the fourth.
As dark clouds hovered overhead and the wind began to whip around the stadium, the Nationals went ahead 4-2 in the fourth.
With one out, Lowe hit Morse with a pitch. After Desmond's ground-rule double, Nieves poked a single to center barely past the glove of second baseman Martin Prado.
Atlanta scored an unearned run in the sixth. Diaz reached on a fielding miscue by shortstop Desmond, his majors-high 24th error of the season, reached second base on Nieves' passed ball, and scored on Omar Infante's single.
Olsen hadn't pitched for Washington since May 21; he went on the disabled list the next day with tightness in his throwing shoulder.
NOTES: Braves SS Alex Gonzalez initially was listed in the starting lineup but was scratched because he was running a high temperature. RF Jason Heyward, originally slated to get the day off, was put in the lineup, and Infante switched from RF to SS. ... Strasburg was scratched from what was supposed to be his 10th major league start Tuesday. He was pulled minutes before that day's game when he felt stiffness in his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen. ... Entering Thursday, no major leaguer other than Desmond had made more than 16 errors in 2010.