Taylor key in Nats' rally after getting break from lineup

Taylor key in Nats' rally after getting break from lineup

WASHINGTON -- After starting four straight games this past week while outfielders Jayson Werth, Nate McLouth and Steven Souza Jr. all nursed shoulder injuries, Nationals prospect Michael Taylor was out of the starting lineup on Saturday. Bryce Harper moved to right field while utility man Kevin Frandsen started in left for the fourth time this month.

Taylor still saw action on Saturday night as pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, when he led off the frame with a walk. The at-bat proved crucial, as Taylor came around to score the Nationals' first run of a three-run eighth in an eventual 4-3 walk-off victory over the Pirates at Nationals Park.

"He was patient," manager Matt Williams said after the game. "Fouled off a couple fastballs that he was right on, and was patient enough to get that walk for us to start it off."

Taylor -- who the Nats called up from Triple-A Syracuse last Sunday just four games after his promotion from Double-A Harrisburg -- went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in his memorable debut at Citi Field on Tuesday. But in the three contests following, including the final two against the Mets and the series opener against the Pirates, Taylor went 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts.

"I feel like I've been getting myself out," Taylor said. "Swinging at a couple [bad] pitches, expanding the zone, and taking good pitches to hit. I think I just have to get back to what I know how to do and just try to stay comfortable."

Given Taylor's sudden turn, Williams opted to give the 23-year-old an opportunity to catch his breath after the most exciting week of his young career.

"I've seen him, over the last couple of days, take some fastballs that he normally doesn't take," Williams said before Saturday's game. "For all the time that I struggled, I understand [when] you just think too much, and you're thinking about, 'Well, this guy's got a curveball,' or, 'He's got a slider.' … The secret to his success is going to be hitting the fastball. That's what he does. It's not easy for a guy coming out of Double-A to step into the big leagues and do it on a consistent basis. So if we get a chance to get him a day [off] and regroup, then it's important that we do that."

Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.