LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jayson Werth hit his first spring home run in support of Jordan Zimmermann, who returned to his previously dominant Spring Training form with five scoreless innings, as the Nationals picked up a 5-2 win over the Tigers on Thursday night at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Washington's third straight win pushed its record over the .500 mark after seven straight losses last week. Two of those defeats came to the Tigers (18-11) at Space Coast Stadium, but the Nationals never trailed in their third and final matchup of the spring.
A leadoff infield single and stolen base by Nyjer Morgan set up Werth for an RBI single to open the scoring in the first inning off Detroit starter Rick Porcello. Rick Ankiel doubled and scored in the fourth inning to stretch the lead before homers from Werth and Michael Morse put Washington (13-12) in command in the fifth.
Porcello struck out five Nationals in a 10-batter span before the homers, but he ended up yielding five runs over as many innings on eight hits with two walks.
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Zimmermann had tossed 11 scoreless innings over his first three starts before the Cardinals roughed him up for six runs over four frames last Friday. He reverted by keeping Tigers batters off-balance and limiting his damage to singles, five of them over as many innings. Zimmermann had runners at the corners and one out in the third and fourth innings, but he used strikeouts of Magglio Ordonez, Alex Avila and Brandon Inge to snuff out the rally.
Zimmermann struck out six batters, nearly matching his Spring Training total. Werth, Morse and Ian Desmond backed him with two hits each.
Up next for Tigers: The remaining contenders for Detroit's bullpen will all get one more chance to make an impression on the coaching staff. They'll be in action Friday night at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, where the Tigers take on the Braves at 6:05 p.m. ET. Adam Wilk will make his second start of the spring, followed by Enrique Gonzalez, Brayan Villarreal, Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry. Brandon Beachy is scheduled to start for Atlanta. The game will be broadcast on MLB.com's Gameday Audio. Meanwhile, Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit are scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game at Tigertown on Friday afternoon.
Up next for Nationals: Washington has another evening affair Friday, this time at Space Coast Stadium against St. Louis. The last time these two teams met was Monday, when tempers flared during the Nationals' 7-2 victory at Roger Dean Stadium. In seventh inning, with one out and Washington leading, 4-2, St. Louis right-hander and former Nationals pitcher Miguel Batista hit Desmond with a pitch. After he was hit, Desmond looked to home-plate umpire Fran Burke, wanting an explanation as to why he was hit. Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown. The two teams argued for about 15 minutes, with managers Jim Riggleman and Tony La Russa having a few words. The two have been friends for more than 30 years and worked together in the Cardinals' organization.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.