LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michael Taylor, the Nationals' No. 2 prospect, hit two home runs as part of a three-homer barrage from Washington batters off Justin Verlander, building an early lead until Joey Pankake's ninth-inning homer forged a 7-7 tie with the Tigers on Sunday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Three days after the same teams battled to a scoreless tie in Viera, Fla., the two sides combined for seven homers on a summerlike day in Lakeland. Taylor's two-homer day and Ian Stewart's third homer of the spring resulted in a string of three leadoff home runs in as many innings off Verlander, who continued to work on his slider while trying to spot his fastball.
"It was better," Verlander said. "It wasn't great."
Washington put up a pair of runs off Verlander in a 24-pitch second inning before Taylor poked an opposite-field home run over the right-field fence to begin the third. Verlander halted the damage there, though he used up 28 pitches in the process, until Stewart sent his first pitch of the fourth inning out to left.
Taylor's second homer was on what Verlander called a backup slider that got enough of the plate for Taylor to pull onto the left-field berm. Verlander retired his next batter, finishing with five runs allowed on five hits over 4 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Though Miguel Cabrera headlined Detroit's offense in his first Grapefruit League game, going 1-for-3 with a single, the Tigers rallied back on the long ball. J.D. Martinez hit his fifth homer of the spring to open Detroit's scoring in the fourth before Alex Avila hit a two-run homer, his first of the spring, off lefty Jerry Blevins in the seventh.
A solo homer from Wade Gaynor in the eighth set up the chance to tie it in the ninth for Pankake, who sent Manny Delcarmen's pitch out to left.
Nationals starter A.J. Cole, starting in place of Stephen Strasburg, who sprained his ankle, allowed two runs on one hit while striking out five over 3 2/3 innings.
Up next: The Nationals return to Space Coast Stadium on Monday to play the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV. Right-hander Doug Fister will make his fourth start of the spring and is expected to pitch five innings. He will face the Yanks for the second time this month. On March 8, Fister pitched two shutout innings in a 3-2 loss.
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.