Zimmermann yields first run of spring, but limits damage (Nats lose 2-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP

Score: Tigers 2, Nationals 1

Recap: Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann allowed his first run of the season during a four-inning stint in a match-up against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Zimmermann yielded four hits, hit a batter and fanned four, and his spring ERA now stands at 0.69.

Need to know: Zimmermann became the first pitcher to bat this spring, and was under orders from Nats manager Matt Williams to bunt with two outs in the third, even though he was hecked after bouncing out to Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander

On deck: Monday, vs. Tigers at Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.


VIERA, Fla. - So much for Jordan Zimmermann's perfect spring.

The Nationals right-hander, who had not allowed a run in his previous three Grapefruit League starts spanning nine innings, gave up his first run of the spring in the first inning of today's split-squad game against the Tigers.

But Zimmermann was able to limit the damage after starting out by allowing a single through the box to leadoff hitter Rajai Davis and plunking Ian Kinsler on the left forearm. After Victor Martinez was retired on a pop foul fly to first, the runners pulled off a double steal before Don Kelly's grounder to third scored the run.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had to charge the slow roller and make an off-balance throw to first, but he did so without any problem.

It's the Tigers up 1-0 and the Nationals facing Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

Update: We're through four innings at Space Coast Stadium, and the score remains the same.

Verlander has faced the minimum 12 hitters through four hitless innings, though the Nats are getting some good wood on the Tigers ace. Ryan Zimmerman lined a ball off his glove in the second, but the carom went to second for a harmless 1-4-3 groundout. Ian Desmond just whacked a nice liner to center that was caught.

The Nats have had exactly one baserunner, but he didn't stay on base long. Jose Lobaton drew a leadoff walk in the third and was quickly erased by a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Jeff Kobernus.

Zimmermann is out after four innings and 66 pitches, 44 of them strikes. He allowed four hits, hit a batter and struck out three.

Sammy Solis is on in relief.

Update II: Well, at least the Nationals finally got a hit off Verlander.

After 4 2/3 innings, Adam LaRoche lined a single to center. But Jose Lobaton struck out to end the fifth, and likely Verlander's effort for the day.

As we move to the sixth, Will Rhymes is in the game at third base for the Nats and Zimmerman has moved across the diamond to first base, his first appearance there of the spring. Matt Williams had promised to get Zimmerman some game action at first, and today is the day.

You know that old saying about the ball finding a new player on defense? Well, it held true for Zimmerman's debut at first base.

With one out in the sixth and a runner on first, Kelly hit a broken-bat grounder to Zimmerman's right. He scooped the ball without being distracted by a chunk of lumber helicoptering down the first base line, looked at second to see if he could nab the lead runner and wisely chose to trot to first for the sure out.

Looked like a natural.

Update III: The Nationals have tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. Jeff Kobernus drew a leadoff walk off Evan Reed, stole second, went to third on pinch-hitter Nate McLouth's grounder to first and scampered home when catcher Bryan Holoday was charged with a passed ball.

Update IV: The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when ex-National Steve Lombardozzo led off with an infield single, stole second and third, and scored on Danny Worth's one-out double to left.

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