Zimmermann impressive but Nationals rally to top Tigers

VIERA, Fla. (AP) Jordan Zimmermann retired eight of his nine batters in his Detroit debut against his former team, and the Tigers went on to an 8-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Zimmermann yielded a two-out hit to Pedro Severino in the third inning before being replaced by Bruce Rondon, who gave up a two-run homer to Ben Revere.

Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg struck out five but gave up the first of Bryan Holaday's two two-run homers in the second inning. Holaday also connected against A.J. Cole and is 6 for 8 with three homers and eight RBIs this spring.

Zimmermann made his major league debut with Washington in 2009 and played for the Nationals for seven seasons before signing a $110 million, five-year contract with Detroit over the winter.

''It's definitely fun getting out there and attacking these guys after all the smack talk,'' a smiling Zimmermann said. ''They said when I moved on they were going to take me deep. It was a good outing.''

Among the batters Zimmermann retired Saturday were Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon.

''You know some of these guy's tendencies and obviously, they (tried) to switch it up on me,'' Zimmermann said.

''(Jayson Werth), I threw him a first-pitch heater. Usually, he takes the first pitch. I figured he might be swinging (so) I threw it for a ball. I threw a slider and he's yelling at me out there, rounding first after he popped up. It was fun.''

Prior to taking the mound, Zimmermann got a chance to catch up with Werth, Strasburg and Washington pitchers like Tanner Roark, Aaron Barrett and Gio Gonzalez.

The Strasburg and Zimmermann families are very close, in part because both men have children who are the same age.

''It was strange, but it was good to see him,'' Strasburg said. ''I saw him in the weight room before the game. He's doing well. He likes it over there, so I'm happy for him.''

STARTING TIME

Nationals: Strasburg struck out three in a row at one point and was satisfied with his outing despite giving up the home run to Holaday.

''I kind of struggled throwing in to righties a little bit, kind of yanking them a tad,'' Strasburg said. ''But my curveball felt really good. Fastball away felt really good as well.''

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Tigers: Anibal Sanchez (right triceps inflammation) threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session in Lakeland. The next step will be to throw another bullpen and perhaps a live batting practice session before appearing in a Grapefruit League game.

Nationals: The team was still waiting for catcher Wilson Ramos to get back to camp after having Lasik surgery done on his eyes.

UP NEXT

Tigers: Left-hander Matt Boyd gets the start as Detroit hosts Miami and right-hander Dylan Axelrod.

Nationals: Washington heads to Jupiter to play St. Louis. Blake Treinen starts for the Nationals against Deck McGuire.

WERTH DEBUTS

Werth went 0 for 2 in his first game of the spring. Werth missed all of spring training last year coming off shoulder surgery.

PAPLEBON LEAVES CAMP

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said closer Jonathan Papelbon has left the team to take care of a family emergency, but is expected back soon.

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