Nationals win as Zimmermann cools Detroit bats

Bryce Harper had a homer and two RBI to back seven strong innings from Jordan Zimmermann as the Washington Nationals posted a 3-1 decision over the Detroit Tigers to take the opener of a two-game interleague series.

Zimmermann (6-1) became the National League's first six-game winner after shutting down a potent Tigers' lineup that racked up 37 runs during a four- game road sweep of Houston over the weekend. The right-hander yielded just one run while scattering seven hits and striking out seven.

"I tried to go as deep as I can," Zimmermann said. "I was able to go seven and keep the team in the game."

He had help from Harper as well as Denard Span and Adam LaRoche, each of whom collected a pair of hits and scored once in Washington's fifth victory in six May outings.

Miguel Cabrera knocked in the lone Detroit run in the loss, only the second in the Tigers' last 11 games. Anibal Sanchez (3-3) struck out eight Nationals in six innings, but was reached for three runs (two earned) on eight hits.

Detroit failed to get a runner past second against Zimmermann and relievers Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano over the game's final six innings, and Washington went ahead to stay with the help of a Tigers' error in the bottom of the fourth.

With LaRoche and Danny Espinosa having reached on singles. Kurt Suzuki lofted a fly ball to right that Torii Hunter snared for the second out, but his throw to third while attempting to gun down LaRoche sailed into the photographers' well to give the Nationals a 2-1 edge.

Harper made it a two-run advantage an inning later, belting Sanchez's first- pitch offering into the seats in right center for his 10th homer of the season.

"He has all the physical tools...and he's only going to get better and better," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Harper.

That was enough for Zimmermann, who threw 72 of his 101 pitches for strikes before being removed. Clippard worked around a pair of walks in the eighth, with Soriano retiring the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save of the season.

Detroit's lone damage came in the third, when Cabrera followed Hunter's two- out double with a base hit to left that brought in the game's first run.

Washington tied it during its half of the frame, however. Span legged out a leadoff triple to right, then crossed the plate on Harper's sacrifice fly two batters later.

Game Notes

The series was originally slated to begin Tuesday, but inclement weather forced the game to be postponed to Thursday, a scheduled off day for both teams. Additionally, the start of this contest was delayed 57 minutes due to wet conditions ... Sanchez was dealt his first loss in 20 career starts against Washington, having entered the contest 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA versus the Nats ... The victory was only the second in 10 all-time meetings with Detroit for the Nationals' franchise, with the other coming by the Montreal Expos on June 12, 2002 ... Detroit swept a three-game set in its most recent visit to Washington, which took place at RFK Stadium in June of 2007 ... Zimmermann had a string of 20 consecutive scoreless innings end, matching the longest of his career.