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: Doug Fister will try to build off his last start and carry some momentum into the final days of camp when he makes the start against the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. ET start Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium. Fister gave up nine runs over seven innings in his first three spring starts but tossed four innings of one-hit ball against the Mets last Thursday. Kyle Lobstein, Luke Putkonen, Darin Downs and Phil Coke are scheduled to pitch in relief in a game which can be seen on MLB.TV and Fox Sports Detroit.
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.