Jayson Werth's three-run blast tied it up. Ian Desmond added some insurance runs with his bases-loaded, two-run single. But it was 24-year-old Zach Walters who put the Washington Nationals ahead 4-3 after Werth tied it and before Desmond broke it open. With the score tied at 3-3 in Miami, after the Nats escaped a potential jam with Drew Storen inducing a double play grounder and Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche turning it to end the home-half of the seventh, Walters stepped up in the pitcher's spot in the top of the eighth and sent a towering blast out to left on an 0-1 slider from Marlins' reliever Mike Dunn.
It was the second home run in two days for the Walters, the switch-hitting infielder acquired from Arizona in 2011, who turned on the power last season at Davey Johnson's suggestion and hit a Triple-A International League-leading 29 HRs before he was called up in September to make his major league debut.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked this spring about Walters working on hitting for average this season after his power-filled 2013 campaign, but after tonight's game he talked about having a home run threat coming off the bench.
"That's the benefit of switch hitting with power," Williams told reporters after the Nationals took two of three in Miami with tonight's 6-3 win.
"He's got power from both sides of the plate. He's a great guy for that situation. He can run as well, so if he gets on base he's got the ability to steal a base, so he's got a lot of tools."
Asked if he saw where Walters' home run landed, Williams said no, he was just concentrating on whether or not it would stay fair.
"I was just concentrating on whether it was fair or foul," he said. "Hoping it would stay fair, but I didn't exactly see where it landed."
Told it hit the scoreboard high above the left field fence before falling back onto the field of play, Williams was surprised. "Did it really?" he asked.
Walters was called up when Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the DL this past weekend with a fractured thumb. After a breakout power campaign last year, he made a big impression on his the Nationals' new manager this spring when he put up a .379/.455/.621 line with two doubles, a triple and a home run in Grapefruit League action before he was optioned to the Nationals' top affiliate.
In nine games and 33 PAs before he was called up, Walters put up a .290/.303/.452 line with three doubles and triple for the Syracuse Chiefs.
He's up in the majors now and helping out off the bench, but it's not clear what the immediate future holds for the hard-hitting infielder once some of the Nationals start returning from the slew of injuries that Washington has dealt with early this season.
Williams said what was important was what he's doing now.
"We don't know exactly how everything all shakes out," the first-year skipper explained. "We've got some guys that are injured and he's here now and he's contributing, so that's all we care about at this point."
• Doghouse and I talked about Walters' blast, Tanner Roark's strong effort, Jayson Werth and more on tonight's edition of Nats Nightly: