Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates his sixth inning grand slam home run with Ramon Santiago #39, Jhonny Peralta #27 and Prince Fielder #28 while playing the Washington Nationals at Comerica Park on July 30, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Alex Avila hit his first career grand slam as the Detroit Tigers beat the Washington Nationals, 5-1, tonight at Comerica Park.
Anibal Sanchez allowed an earned run on five hits and two walks over seven innings for the Tigers on 95 pitches.
Jose Veras, whom the Tigers traded for Monday, replaced Sanchez to start the eighth. He got a pair of groundouts and a fly out to center on 14 pitches.
Stephen Strasburg pitched seven innings, too, but gave up five earned runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out seven.
The Nationals got on the board in the first inning after All-Star and last year's NL rookie of the year Bryce Harper led off with triple to right. With one away, Ryan Zimmerman singled to center to score the run.
The Tigers tied the game in the fourth. With one out, Prince Fielder walked and then got to second on Jhonny Peralta's two-out single. Andy Dirks then came through with a ground-rule double to left for the RBI.
Detroit loaded the bases with one out in the sixth after Fielder singled, Victor Martinez doubled down the rightfield line and Peralta walked. Strasburg (5-9) struck out Dirks swinging on a full-count curveball, setting the stage for Avila, who belted a 2-1 pitch deep to right-center for his seventh home run of the season.
Joaquin Benoit got Jayson Werth to fly out and Ian Desmond to ground out before Denard Span reached on a single to right. But Wilson Ramos flied out to deep center to end the game.
After the run in the first, Sanchez (9-7) settled down, allowing a couple of infield hits and walk before Adam LaRoche's ground-rule double with one out in the sixth.
The Nats put runners at second and third with two outs after an Ian Desmond walk and then stolen base, but Span grounded out to second.
In the top of the seventh, Ramon Santiago had a very nice play to get Ramos to foul out. Santiago ranged all the way from second base into foul territory and snowconed the ball while sliding to record the out.
BY KIRKLAND CRAWFORD - DETROIT FREE PRESS