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Walters makes impression in Nationals' win in Miami

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- With two home runs in his past two at-bats -- including one game-winner -- Washington Nationals rookie Zach Walters is making an impression.

"He's got power from both sides of the plate," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "He's got speed, too, so if he gets on base, he can steal. He's got a lot of tools."

Walters didn't need to run Wednesday night, however -- just trot.

His tiebreaking, pinch-hit, solo home run in the eighth inning led the Nationals to a 6-3 win over the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park.

Walters hit a 1-0, 87 mph breaking pitch from lefty reliever Mike Dunn (0-2), pulling the ball down the line in left field.

"It was a hanging slider," Dunn said. "It was a terrible pitch -- and he hit it."

A 24-year-old shortstop from Cheyenne, Wyo., Walters made his big-league debut last September, but he had not hit a homer in the majors until late in Tuesday's 11-2 loss to Miami.

"Going back to last September, he put together some good at-bats, and it looks like his approach at the plate is pretty refined for a kid who does not have much big-league experience," said Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth. "He's got talent, he's got pop -- he's got a chance."

Werth was one of the other heroes of the night for Washington -- it was his three-run homer in the sixth that tied the score.

And after Walters' blast, Washington added a two-run, eighth-inning single by shortstop Ian Desmond.

The win went to Drew Storen (1-0), who pitched in relief of starter Tanner Roark.

Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his third save. He has converted 15 consecutive saves, dating to last season.

Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who entered the game 11-0 with a 1.12 ERA at home in his one-plus seasons in the majors, got a no-decision.

Fernandez, who struck out 10, pitched seven innings, allowing four hits, no walks and three runs -- all unearned.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia made two errors in the sixth, accounting for the unearned runs. The crucial one came on a bunt play in which Saltalamacchia tried to cut down the runner at third, but his throw was wide of the bag.

"If he makes a good throw, he gets him," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It looked like he yanked (the throw) a little bit."

The Nationals (9-6), who lost four of their previous five before Wednesday, managed to take two out of three from the Marlins.

Miami (6-10) lost for the ninth time in its past 10 games.

The Marlins opened the scoring in the fourth, when second baseman Derek Dietrich pulled a 92 mph fastball for a one-out, three-run homer that struck the facing of the second deck in right field.

Dietrich's homer, his third of the season, came after first baseman Garrett Jones and third baseman Casey McGehee singled.

But Miami's lead was short-lived as Werth beat Fernandez with his homer on a 0-1, 96 mph fastball.

"It was an outside pitch," Fernandez said. "I checked to 'Salty', and I got beat. It's part of the game. I was trying to keep my team in the game, and we had the lead. Obviously it's not what I wanted to happen. But we learn from it."

Fernandez said Saltalamacchia remained positive in the midst of the rough sixth inning.

"He came up to me and said: 'You know what? That runner is not going to come in. Don't worry about it. We'll get through it.'

"But it didn't happen the way we wanted it to. Hopefully, Friday when we come back, we play hard and get a win."

NOTES: A half-hour before first pitch, Nationals LF Bryce Harper (quad tightness) was scratched from the lineup and replaced by Tyler Moore. Harper was hitting 10-for-19 (.556) on the current road trip with three doubles and a triple. ... Nationals CF Denard Span (concussion) plans to return to the lineup Saturday. ... Marlins manager Mike Redmond said LHP Brad Hand lost his rotation spot after two starts, neither of which lasted past the fourth inning. RHP Kevin Slowey, who was 1-6 with a 4.21 ERA as a starter last season, will start Sunday. Injured RHP Jacob Turner likely will return by the time Slowey's rotation spot comes up again. ... After a night off Thursday, the Marlins play host to the Seattle Mariners on Friday for the start of a three-game series. The teams will meet for the first time since 2011. The only other time the Mariners played in Miami was in 2005. ... The Nationals return home Thursday for the start of a four-game series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.
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