Morgan vying to be better basestealer

Morgan vying to be better basestealer

CINCINNATI -- Center fielder Nyjer Morgan is the Nationals' best stolen-base threat since Alfonso Soriano wore the uniform in 2006.

But during the recent two-game series against the Braves, Morgan was caught stealing twice and picked off once in crucial situations. The good news was that Morgan told interim manager Jim Riggleman that he has to improve his success rate. Entering Friday's game against the Reds, Morgan has stolen 20 bases in 27 attempts since joining the Nationals on June 30.

"I have to be safe enough that [the umpire] can't call me out," Morgan told Riggleman.

Morgan is still trying to get better jumps on the pitchers. Right now, he is trying to outrun the baseball.

"If he is safe on those [plays], it looks like he has a pretty good range of success in his stolen-base attempts," Riggleman said. "With a couple of outs, he looks like he is running recklessly. But we can't put the reins on Nyjer Morgan. Nyjer has to go and we have to let him go.

"That's a little piece of the game we didn't have at all before he was here and we have to take advantage of it. Certainly, we have to get better it at, fine-tune it and hopefully make less outs on the bases."

Pitching matchup
WSH: RHP Garrett Mock (1-4, 6.14 ERA)
Mock pitched the game of his life Saturday night, and it helped the Nationals defeat the D-backs, 5-2. Washington needed Mock to go deep and give the overworked bullpen a rest. Mock lasted six innings and gave up two runs on five hits. It was his first career quality start and the second time he had gone past the fifth inning as a starter. The only time Mock had serious problems was in the fourth, when Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer to give Arizona a 2-1 lead. But Mock regrouped and didn't allow another run.

CIN: RHP Aaron Harang (6-13, 4.43 ERA)
The monkey is off Aaron Harang's back. The Reds righty pitched seven solid innings on Sunday against the Giants, securing his first win in 14 starts. He had been mired in a nine-game losing streak. After allowing two runs on seven hits and whiffing seven Giants batters, Harang credited a change in his mechanics. It will be interesting to see if he can build on the success that those improvements helped bring. Facing the Nationals on June 10, Harang pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings, but a blown save cost him the victory.

Tidbits
Collin Balester is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA this season. ... John Lannan leads the Nationals in losses with nine. ... Ryan Zimmerman has hit safely in 16 games. He is 25-for 55 (.455) during that span. ... Cristian Guzman went 0-for-4 against the Reds on Thursday, ending his 17-game hitting streak.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
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On radio
• WFED 1500, SBN 1390 (Español), ESPN 730 (Sp.)

Up next
• Saturday: Nationals (J.D. Martin, 1-2, 5.91) at Reds (Johnny Cueto, 8-9, 4.23), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Nationals (John Lannan, 8-9, 3.58) at Reds (Justin Lehr, 2-0, 1.80), 1:10 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.