MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Werth's pinch-hit slam helps propel Nationals

Werth's pinch-hit slam helps propel Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Outfielder Jayson Werth began Sunday's 10-2 Nationals victory on the bench. But he wasn't on the bench watching the game vs. the Cardinals. He didn't like the way he was hitting lately, so he decided to spend most of the time working on his swing in the cage at Nationals Park and looking at film. He decided to lower his hands in the batter's box if he was given a chance to enter the game as a pinch-hitter.

That chance game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and the Nationals leading, 4-2, and left-hander Dean Kiekhefer on the mound. On a 1-0 pitch, Werth hit the ball over the center-field fence for his sixth career grand slam. It was Werth's fourth pinch-hit homer of his career and the Nationals' seventh pinch-homer of the season.

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It's only the second pinch-hit grand slam in Nats history. Justin Maxwell was the first to do it, on Sept. 11, 2007, against the Marlins.

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"[Kiekhefer] left a heater over the middle, and I hit it out," Werth said. "I've been feeling pretty good, health-wise. I was able to get some good work in today, and it paid off."

"Werth not only hit out of the ballpark, he is swinging the bat better sometimes with no results," manager Dusty Baker said.

To Baker, Werth made up for the double play he hit into against the Marlins on May 21. In the ninth inning of that game and the Nationals down, 3-2, Werth was unable to come through. According to Baker, Werth hasn't forgotten about that. Baker hadn't either.

"I told him that I remember it like it was yesterday. … These are the kind of things you remember. That was a big-time redeemer today," Baker said.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.