WASHINGTON -- Jordan Zimmermann won his league-leading sixth game and Bryce Harper hit his 10th homer of the season as the Washington Nationals beat the Detroit Tigers 3-1 on Wednesday in an interleague matchup between preseason World Series favorites.
The Nationals (18-15) beat Detroit for the first time in franchise history and also finally bested Tigers' starter Anibal Sanchez (3-3), who entered the game with an 8-0 mark against Washington.
Sanchez allowed three runs (two earned) and eight hits with eight strikeouts and no walks before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh with Washington leading 3-1.
Detroit (19-12) had just one run and seven hits in seven innings against Zimmermann, who improved to 6-1 in the opener of a rain-delayed two-game series.
Tyler Clippard came on to pitch in the top of the eighth for Washington and got Miguel Cabrera to fly out. He then struck out Prince Fielder. Andy Dirks and Jhonny Peralta draw walks but Alex Avila struck out swinging to end the threat.
Rafael Soriano retired the side in the ninth to get his 11th save for the Nationals.
Jose Ortega pitched a scoreless seventh for the Tigers and Joaquin Benoit came on in the eighth out of the Detroit bullpen and retired the side.
Harper's home run, a solo shot to right with two outs in the fifth off Sanchez gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead.
Washington took a 2-1 lead in the fourth as Adam LaRoche advanced to third on fly ball out to right off the bat of Kurt Suzkuki. LaRoche was awarded home when the throw from right fielder Torii Hunter got past third baseman Cabrera and into the stands.
The Nationals had tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third as Denard Span led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Harper.
The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third as Cabrera singled to left to drive in Hunter, who had doubled with two outs. Cabrera entered the game with a batting average of .362 and 21 homers in 85 career games against Washington.
The run by the Tigers ended a 20-inning scoreless streak by Zimmermann, who began the game with an ERA of 1.64, the third-best mark in the National League. In his last start at home, he threw a one-hitter with a complete game win against the Reds.
Sanchez, a former Marlins' pitcher, entered the night with an 8-0 lifetime mark against Washington and an ERA of 1.97. He set an interleague record with 17 strikeouts against the Braves on April 26.
The start of the game was delayed 57 minutes by rain and inclement weather.
NOTES: Playing in a National League park, the Tigers' starting lineup was without DH Victor Martinez ... This was the first game at Nationals Park for Detroit. The last visit to Washington for the Tigers was June 18-20, 2007, when they swept three games at RFK Stadium. ... Right fielder Jayson Werth, bothered by a sore hamstring, was not in the starting lineup for the Nationals. Washington manager Davey Johnson said he did not want to use Werth on a wet field in his first game back after several games off. ... The Nationals entered the game with an 0-6 mark against the Tigers since coming to the nation's capital.