Atilano to miss start with sore elbow

CINCINNATI -- Nationals right-hander Luis Atilano will not make his scheduled start against the Brewers on Sunday because of a sore right elbow.

The news comes a day after Atilano pitched four innings and allowed five runs on five hits against the Reds. In his previous two Major League starts, Atilano allowed nine runs in nine innings. After he was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse in order to get work during the All-Star break, Atilano allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings against Pawtucket.

It was after Tuesday's game that Atilano complained of elbow soreness to pitching coach Steve McCatty. Atilano has a history of elbow problems. He had elbow reconstruction in 2006, the same year the Nationals acquired him from the Braves.

With Atilano not able to go on the mound Sunday, the Nationals are considering left-handers John Lannan and Matt Chico to make the start against the Brewers.

Since being sent down to the Minor Leagues last month, Lannan has been up and down, going 1-2 with a 4.11 ERA.

Chico, who led the Nationals in most pitching categories in 2007, is 5-4 with a 3.55 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse.

Left-hander Ross Detwiler would have been a candidate, but he pitched seven shutout innings, struck out seven hitters and walked one as Double-A Harrisburg blanked New Britain, 2-0, on Wednesday.

"That's more of a conversation with Steve McCatty and [general manager] Mike Rizzo that we would have," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We'll see what our options are -- see who is on pace to pitch that day."

Morse continues to produce for Nats

CINCINNATI -- Outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse continues to be productive while coming off the bench. In his latest performance, he came in as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning Tuesday and hit a three-run triple off Reds left-hander Bill Bray.

For the season, Morse is hitting .324 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 37 games. Outsiders have often wondered why Morse doesn't play every day. Manager Jim Riggleman has often said that the team is committed to Roger Bernadina in right field and not planning to bench center fielder Nyjer Morgan or first baseman Adam Dunn.

However, Riggleman said Morse will get a couple of starts in the Nats' upcoming series against the Brewers. Morse is one guy who has not complained about playing time. He said he is ready to play when called upon.

"My mentality is, it doesn't matter what role I'm in, I'm playing. Baseball is baseball," Morse said. "I'm prepared every pitch, every at-bat. I know if a situation is coming up, all Riggleman has to do is say my name and I'll be ready.

"I think it's a curse and a good thing. It works both ways. Hopefully, if I get some more playing time -- if I do, I do. If I don't, I don't. I leave it all up to Jim. I think he is doing a good job."