Strasburg sharp in return to mound

Right-hander fans five in four innings; Gwynn, Ka'aihue homer in win

Strasburg sharp in return to mound

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Nationals got to Justin Verlander for his first runs and homers allowed in Spring Training since 2013, while Stephen Strasburg shut down Detroit's offense for four innings with five strikeouts, turning a Grapefruit League pitching duel into a one-sided affair for a 6-4 Washington win Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Before Verlander's 2014 season took a turn for the worse, he pitched 20 shutout innings in Spring Training. He entered Tuesday with a 25-inning scoreless streak in Grapefruit League play since his last runs on March 27, 2013. He had not given up a Grapefruit home run since Houston's Carlos Corporan and Matt Dominguez took him deep on March 20, 2013.

Ian Desmond took care of the runs part in Tuesday's opening inning when he lofted a Verlander offspeed pitch into the sun and into deep left-center field, where Yoenis Cespedes couldn't track it down. While Cespedes retrieved it, Desmond rolled into third and eventually scored on Wilson Ramos' two-out single up the middle.

Two innings later, Tony Gwynn Jr. ended Verlander's homerless streak by sending a ball out to right for a solo shot. Ramos' single leading off the next inning gave him a view when Kila Ka'aihue drove a Verlander pitch over the right-field scoreboard for a 4-1 lead.

Verlander gave up four runs on five hits over four innings, striking out three. His fastball topped out at 94 mph in the opening inning.

"A couple fastballs [went] by guys for strikeouts," Verlander said. "It was all pretty good. Ironically, it was the worst start of the spring. You don't pay attention to that stuff right now. In a real game, if my slider's that bad, I'm not really going to throw it. It's usually the last thing I work on."

Strasburg, making his second start of the spring, allowed three hits -- one of them a bunt single by backup catcher Bryan Holaday. He stranded three runners in scoring position with help from key strikeouts -- one of them a called third strike on Jefry Marte to end the third inning, the other a swing-and-miss from Anthony Gose in the fourth.

Ian Kinsler hit his second home run of the spring for Detroit.

Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria and Bruce Rondon pitched scoreless innings for Detroit, but two seventh-inning runs off Joba Chamberlain provided the eventual cushion for Washington to withstand a three-run homer by Tyler Collins off Jerry Blevins in the eighth.

Up next: Right-hander Doug Fister will make his third Grapefruit League start on Wednesday against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium at 1:05 p.m. ET on Gameday Audio. The Nationals would like Fister to pitch into the fourth inning to continue building his arm strength. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings during his previous start.

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.