WASHINGTON -- Rookie catcher Jesus Flores felt he had a lot to atone for after twice dropping foul pops for errors. Fortunately, he'll remember his ninth-inning, two-run double that gave the Washington Nationals a 4-3 win over the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night.
Flores, a Rule 5 draft choice who never played above Class A before this season, has been playing more and more -- and he delivered on Tuesday night.
With the Nationals trailing 3-2 in the ninth inning, Dmitri Young led off with a walk off closer Kevin Gregg (0-5). With one out, Wily Mo Pena singled to third and pinch-runner Ryan Langerhans advanced to third. After Ronnie Belliard popped to first, Flores doubled to the left-field corner, scoring Langerhans and Pena.
Chris Schroder (2-1), the fifth Washington pitcher, got the win with a scoreless ninth. It was Washington's fourth straight win.
"Wily Mo -- he's not that fast of a guy. When I saw the left fielder wait for the ball, I saw he had a chance to score," Flores said.
"It was an amazing moment. It felt so good. This is the first time in my career that I had a walk-off hit."
Flores wanted badly to forget his two miscues. When he was asked if they still bothered him despite the game-winning hit, he rolled his eyes.
"I don't know what happened. This is the first time I missed two pop-ups," Flores said.
His first came in the fourth inning after the Marlins had tied the game at 2-2. Cody Ross popped behind the plate and Flores dropped it. Moments later, Ross singled, but Washington starter Shawn Hill struck out Miguel Olivo for the third out of the inning.
Flores' second came in the eighth inning with Florida leading -- and again Ross was at the plate. This time, he caught the ball, and an instant later, it popped out of his glove. Washington manager Manny Acta screamed at home plate umpire Bill Welke that Flores held the ball long enough for an out, but it was still his second error.
"He was feeling real bad about the pop-ups," Acta said. "He was able to separate catching from hitting."
Flores' hitting caused Gregg's third blown save of the year -- and spoiled Dontrelle Willis' chance to win just his second game in 18 starts. He has one win since May 29.
"Dontrelle's had some tough luck but that was a great game for him. He pitched a great game. It's just the way it works," Gregg said.
Willis lasted 7 1-3 innings, giving up two runs and eight hits.
Gregg's last blown save came on July 28-another game that Willis left leading.
"So there you go -- that's two wins that I've blown for Dontrelle and the team. It just so happens to be my last two," Gregg said.
Willis wasn't upset with the Marlins closer, who has saved 29 games..
My money's still on Gregg. He's been awesome for us the whole year," Willis said. "That's how the ball bounces sometimes."
For most of the game, it looked as if a fifth-inning single that gave Miguel Cabrera his 500th career RBI would be the decisive hit. Cabrera became the third-youngest player in major-league history to reach 500 RBI.
With the score tied at 2-2, Hanley Ramirez singled with one out in the fifth off Washington starter Shawn Hill to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Ramirez stole second, advanced to third on Alfredo Amezaga's stolen base and scored on Cabrera's single. The only players younger than Cabrera to achieve 500 RBI were Mel Ott and Ted Williams.
Willis reluctantly left the game with one out in the eighth. After pinch-hitter Tony Batista led off with a long fly out to left, Nook Logan doubled and Felipe Lopez reached on an infield single with Logan holding at second. When manager Fredi Gonzalez came to remove him, Willis hopped around and pounded his glove, hoping to stay in.
Lee Gardner replaced him and got Ryan Zimmerman to line to Amezaga at second who threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Hill pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs and 11 hits. He struck out six. It was Hill's first decision in his last five starts. He hadn't had a decision since missing more than three months with a sore right elbow.
The crowd of 15,611 was the lowest in the three years the Nationals have played at RFK Stadium. ...Ramirez stole two bases. His 45 stolen bases are third in the National League. ...Washington traded LHP Ray King to Milwaukee for a player to be named later. ...Florida recalled INF Robert Andino, OFs Reggie Abercrombie and Brett Carroll and RHP Ross Wolf from Class Triple-A Albuquerque.