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Saltalamacchia error costly for Jose Fernandez as Marlins blow lead and lose to Nationals 6-3

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MIAMI — One bad throw by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and one bad pitch by Jose Fernandez cost the Miami Marlins their lead. And when manager Mike Redmond turned to his struggling bullpen, things got worse.

Jayson Werth's homer scored three unearned runs against Fernandez, and the Washington Nationals rallied to beat Miami 6-3 on Wednesday night.

A wild throw by Saltalamacchia — one of his two errors in the sixth inning — helped the Nationals overcome a 3-0 deficit.

"We had a chance to get an out and didn't get it, and it kind of snowballed from there," Redmond said.

Pinch-hitter Zach Walters broke a tie in the eighth inning with a homer off a hanging slider from Mike Dunn (0-2).

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

The homer was the seventh allowed by the Marlins bullpen.

"We're in a funk out there for whatever reason," Redmond said. "Stuff like that just can't happen late in the game. We've given up a lot of big hits late in the game, and those are crushers."

Walters' homer was the second of his career, and his second in as many nights.

The Nationals took the rubber game of the three-game series despite being without four starters, including Bryce Harper, a late scratch because of a tight left quadriceps that has bothered him since Friday.

Fernandez, betrayed by his defense, departed for a pinch-hitter after seven innings. He allowed four hits and three runs, all unearned, with 10 strikeouts and no walks.

The Marlins' precocious ace allowed only one baserunner in the first five innings, but Saltalamacchia's throwing error put runners at first and third with nobody out in the sixth.

PHOTO: Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez walks to the dugout after pitching during the first inning of the MLB National League baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez walks to the dugout after pitching during the first inning of the MLB National League baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Fernandez retired the next two batters before Werth stepped to the plate.

"I thought Jose was going to pitch himself out of that," Redmond said. "He made some great pitches, then just made a mistake and the guy hit it out."

Werth's homer, his third of the season, tied the score at 3.

"I got beat," Fernandez said of his matchup with Werth. "It's part of the game. Obviously not what I wanted to happen, but we learn from it."

Miami fell to 1-5 against the Nationals this year and 3-14 against them since July.

Derek Dietrich hit a tape-measure three-run homer for Miami, his third. The Marlins have homered in eight consecutive games after finishing last in the majors in home runs in 2013.

Giancarlo Stanton, baseball's RBIs leader, went 0 for 4, including two at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Fernandez remained 11-0 at home and became only the third major league pitcher since 1914 to go unbeaten in his first 18 home starts, according to STATS. And he appeared headed for a victory until the sixth.

After Jose Lobaton led off with a double, Saltalamacchia made an ill-advised throw to third on a bunt, and both runners were safe when the throw was errant.

"You have to have an out," Redmond said. "If he makes a good throw, he gets him."

With one out, Saltalamacchia dropped a pop foul for another error that forced Fernandez to throw extra pitches.

Werth's homer deflected off the hands of a fan in the first row of the right-field seats. The ruling was upheld by a replay review that took only 22 seconds.

Miami took the lead in the fourth when Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee singled and Dietrich homered off the upper-deck facade. The distance was estimated at 465 feet.

NOTES: Jones came in leading the majors with 24 strikeouts, but didn't fan in this one. ... The Seattle Mariners visit Miami for only the second time, and the first time since 2005, to begin a three-game series Friday. ... The Nationals begin an 11-game homestand Thursday against St. Louis, with Taylor Jordan (0-1, 4.76) slated to pitch against Adam Wainwright (2-1, 2.57).

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