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NYM@WSH: Werth hammers a three-run shot to center

WASHINGTON -- Sitting in the family room across the hall from the home team's clubhouse at Nationals Park on Saturday, Yunesky Maya was well aware he might take the hill later that night against the Mets.

Sitting at his locker, scheduled starter Jason Marquis was equally aware he might not.

Once the Marquis-to-Arizona trade became official about an hour before the game, Maya trekked across the hallway, ready for his 10th big league start. It wasn't dominant, but it was enough, and Maya picked up his first career win in a 3-0 victory over the Mets in front of 35,414 fans.

"Jason gets traded, I don't know, an hour or two before his start. Maya showed up an hour and two minutes before his start," Jayson Werth said after driving in all three runs to help the Nationals snap a six-game losing streak. "He went out and under the circumstances pitched great ... and we needed it. We've been reeling a little bit."

That all changed in the first inning.

The right-hander from Cuba retired the Mets' first three hitters on five pitches, then turned it over to the Nationals' offense, which gave him an early lead.

Rick Ankiel led off with a single and Michael Morse walked to put two on with two out for Werth. The right fielder sent R.A. Dickey's knuckleball into the grass beyond the center-field fence to give Washington the only three runs it needed.

It improved Werth's career numbers against knuckleballers Dickey and Tim Wakefield to 14-for-33 with three homers, two doubles and seven RBIs.

"It's one of those things if they throw a good one, chances are you're not going to hit it," Werth said. "But if they throw the one that doesn't do a whole lot, you have a pretty good chance of hitting it. It's just a matter of getting the one you can hit."

More importantly, it showed continued improvement for Werth this season.

Five games into this homestand, he is 5-for-14 with a homer and five RBIs.

"I'm tired of saying I'm close, but I'm working in the right direction," Werth said. "I know why, I guess -- it's just a matter of having the right swing during the game."

Werth followed the homer with a well-hit single, but the Nationals could not push any more runs across the board. They continued to put men on base, though, and Maya hurt his back attempting to avoid a tag running from first to second in the fifth.

Maya complained about the injury in the dugout, but took the mound and allowed consecutive singles after a visit from manager Davey Johnson and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz. Johnson visited the mound again and pulled Maya after 5 1/3 innings.

"I took him out because I didn't like the fact that he was going to stay in the game, but he probably was hurt," Johnson said. "You don't pull something and then you're miraculously OK. The pitch that gave him a problem was a curveball, and he hung one to [David Wright]."

It was still one of the better outings from Maya, who struggled in a four-start stint earlier this season. Including five starts last year, Maya completed six innings only twice.

But with help from the bullpen -- and more trade targets -- 5 1/3 were enough this time.

"They saw him last year. Guys were familiar with him, so it was nothing all that new," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "He just pitched very, very good." Comments