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Returning from back injury, Walker exits early

PITTSBURGH -- Neil Walker returned to the Pirates' starting lineup on Tuesday night, but he left after seven innings with tightness in his back, according to manager Clint Hurdle.

The second baseman didn't play in either of the Pirates' final two games in a weekend series in Arizona due to the same issue.

Before Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the Marlins, Walker placed some blame on the hotel beds he endured on the Bucs' recent 10-game road trip. Fresh off three days off -- and two nights in his own bed -- Walker noted he felt fine prior to Tuesday's game, but something appeared to have nagged him, prompting the early exit.

Walker was 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. He is on pace to have the best offensive season of his career, with a .278 average and a career-high-tying 16 homers.

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for
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