VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had his best outing of the spring, but the Nationals lost to the Tigers, 5-1, at Space Coast Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Zimmermann pitched a team-spring-high six innings, allowing one hit and striking out one batter. After Andy Dirks led off the game with a single, Zimmermann retired 18 straight batters. Zimmermann threw 67 pitches, 48 strikes.
Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer was nearly as strong as Zimmermann, allowing one run in five innings. The run was scored in the fourth inning, when Adam LaRoche hit a home run over the left-field fence, his first long ball of the spring.
But the Tigers would take the lead against reliever Rafael Soriano in the top of the seventh inning. Prince Fielder tied the score at 1 by hitting a single to left-center field, scoring Tyler Collins.
After Victor Martinez drew a walk to put runners on first and second, Alex Avila singled over the head of second baseman Danny Espinosa to score Matt Tuiasosopo to make it a 2-1 game.
Two batters later, Omar Infante singled to center field, scoring Victor Martinez. Ramon Santiago followed and singled to left field, scoring Bryan Holaday.
Fernando Abad ended the rally by getting Jeff Kobernus to fly out to Denard Span in center field.
Collins' sacrifice fly in the ninth extended Detroit's lead to the final margin.
Up next: The Nationals have the day off on Tuesday, but return to action Wednesday to play the Marlins in Jupiter at 1:05 p.m. ET. The two teams will face each other for the fourth time this spring, with each club having a win, a loss and a tie in the first three meetings. Right-hander Chris Young is expected to make the start for the Nationals.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.