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Nationals 10-2 over Cardinals: Jayson Werth slam breaks finale with Cards open

Jayson Werth hit a seventh inning grand slam to turn a close 4-2 game into an 8-2 blowout as the Washington Nationals took the series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals and earned a split of the four-game set in the nation's capital.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Minnesota Twins' skipper Ray Miller brought right-handed reliever Ron Davis on to face Oakland A's DH Dusty Baker with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 3-2 game in Oakland on Opening Day, April 8, 1986.

Baker, then 36 years old, in what would end up being his last of nineteen major league seasons, sent a grounder back to the mound to start a game-ending 1-2-3 double play.

"It was nice to see Werth not only hit it out of the ballpark, but he's been swinging a lot better, sometimes with no results." -Dusty Baker on Jayson Werth's grand slam

Baker, now 66, and in his twenty-first season on the bench in the majors, said the memory of that game came back to him recently after he brought Jayson Werth on for a pinch hit opportunity with the bases loaded and no one out in the ninth inning of a 3-2 game in the Marlins' favor during Washington's last trip to Miami.

Werth sent a sharp grounder to third, where Martin Prado fielded it before stepping on the bag and throwing home to Marlins' catcher J.T. Realmuto, who tagged Daniel Murphy for the second out of a 5-3 DP.

A groundout in the next at bat ended the potential rally and handed Miami their sixth win in twelve games between the divisional rivals to that point.

"I know it was eating at him to hit into a double play in Miami," Baker told reporters on Sunday, after Werth sent a pinch hit grand slam out to center in Nationals Park to blow a 4-2 game with the St. Louis Cardinals wide open in the bottom of the seventh.

Baker commiserated with Werth after the grounder to third in Miami, having been through a similarly disappointing experience thirty years earlier that stuck with him.

"These are the kind of things that you kind of remember, so that was a big-time redeemer [for Werth] today."

"I got up there and spit on a changeup first pitch and he left a heater over the middle and I hit it out." -Jayson Werth on his seventh inning, pinch hit grand slam

Werth hit a 1-0 changeup from Cards' lefty Dean Kiekhefer to deep center field in Nationals Park for his seventh home run of the season.

"It was nice to see Werth not only hit it out of the ballpark," Baker said, "but he's been swinging a lot better, sometimes with no results."

"I haven't been hitting the ball the way I'd like to, so went back and looked at some film and kind of lowered my hands a little bit and did some drills," Werth told reporters after today's game.

As he watched Sunday's finale with the Cardinals unfold he saw that he might have an opportunity to make an impact, so he went down to take some swings in the cages inside Nationals Park.

"We were talking when [Chris] Heisey had the double switch, they put the pitcher in the two-spot, I knew I was the only right-hand bat left and with Ben [Revere] a lefty, obviously Bryce [Harper] and [Daniel Murphy] are lefties, it just kind of opened up the opportunity for me -- I kind of saw the opportunity to hit off a lefty possibly with some guys on base and I knew we were a couple innings away but was able to get ready for the at bat and Ben had a great at bat and walked, and I got up there and spit on a changeup first pitch and he left a heater over the middle and I hit it out."

Werth stepped in for the at bat 12 for 34 (.353/.405/.647) with a double and three of his six home runs on the season off left-handed pitchers. He was 37 for 165 (.224/.282/.400) overall after 46 games following the slam.

It was 79 plate appearances between the sixth and seventh home runs of the season for the veteran outfielder, but Baker has said since Spring Training he expects Werth and some other veterans to warm up as the weather does.

"I think this is a hot weather team, and the older players get going, generally, around June if you can hold on till then."

"We've really given ourselves a chance here," Werth said after the Nationals improved to 30-21.

"We started off good. The lineup hasn't necessarily clicked as a whole, but guys have carried us, that's what you want early in the season. Just to win games. I think now as the season goes on, our lineup will get some flow to it and we'll click and hopefully we can win a bunch of games."