VIERA, Fla. (AP) - Justin Verlander arrived at siring training with little interest in what happens in March.
``My point this spring was to focus early on, treat this like April,' Verlander said. ``Instead of just worrying about my arm being ready, worry about pitch selection and doing all the little things.'
That attitude is paying off.
Detroit's ace pitched six scoreless innings Sunday, leading the Tigers past the Washington Nationals 6-1 in a game in which Magglio Ordonez was scratched from the lineup because of a sore left hamstring.
Verlander allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked one.
``I thought everything was working pretty well,' Verlander said. ``My fastball control was there. I thought I had the best braking ball of the spring so far, so that's a positive. And my changeup was really good.'
Well? He's been nearly perfect.
In five spring starts, Verlander has allowed just two runs in 21 innings for a 0.86 ERA.
Verlander has one more exhibition start remaining before pitching the Tigers' opener against the Yankees in New York on March 31.
Nationals starter Tom Gorzelanny went five innings, allowing a two-run homer to Don Kelly in the third inning. Gorzelanny gave up four hits overall and struck out three and walked two.
``It was a pretty good outing,' Gorzelanny said. ``There were times when I didn't feel comfortable, but I was able to fight back and make good pitches. I even thought the home run was a good pitch, he was just sitting on it.'
Kelly, who had two hits, replaced Ordonez in the lineup.
Matt Stairs hit a solo home run in the seventh inning for the Nationals. Alberto Gonzalez was 4 for 4 for Washington, with four singles.
The Nationals made four errors and lost their seventh consecutive game.
``We have to keep it in perspective and stay positive,' Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. ``We have to take the positive things out of the game that we see and hope that those are the things that we take into March 31st.'
NOTES: Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman sat for the fifth consecutive game with a strained left groin. He is day to day.
The Associated Press News Service
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