DETROIT -- Alex Avila's first career grand slam propelled the Detroit Tigers to their fourth straight victory as they defeated the Washington Nationals 5-1 on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
Avila's two-out blast into the right-field stands during the sixth inning off Stephen Strasburg (8-8) backed a strong outing by Anibal Sanchez (9-7), who held the Nationals to one run and five hits in seven innings. It was the first career grand slam allowed by Strasburg and the fifth grand slam by the Tigers this season.
Reliever Jose Veras, acquired from Houston on Monday, made his Tigers debut and retired the side in order during the eighth inning. Joaquin Benoit finished for Detroit, which has won eight of nine.
Ryan Zimmerman drove in the only run for Washington, which had won four of its last five.
Prince Fielder got the sixth-inning outburst started with a one-one single. Victor Martinez followed with a ground-rule double and Jhonny Peralta walked to load the bases. Strasburg struck out Andy Dirks with a 3-2 breaking pitch before Avila, who entered the game with a .193 average, crushed a 2-1 offering to break a 1-1 tie.
Washington struck quickly against Sanchez. Leadoff hitter Bryce Harper tripled off the right-field wall and Zimmerman knocked him in with a one-out single.
Dirks' ground-rule double in the fourth tied it at 1. Fielder drew a one-out walk and Peralta's two-out single advanced him to second before Dirks' bouncer down the third-base line.
NOTES: Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty did not make the trip and remained hospitalized on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. because of an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. McCatty, 59, was taken to a hospital before the Nats' home game against the New York Mets on Sunday. He is expected to be released on Wednesday. "Cat's doing alright," manager Davey Johnson said. "They're just being real careful with him." ... Veras will be used in a setup role, according to general manager Dave Dombrowski. Veras was traded on Monday by Houston for minor-league OF Danry Vasquez and a player to be named. Veras had 19 saves for the Astros. The Tigers made room for Veras by optioning RHP Luke Putkonen to Triple-A Toledo. ... Johnson said he does not expect any moves before Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline. "I don't think we need to do anything," he said. "I didn't think we needed to do anything last year. I think we've got the players we want here." ... Detroit led the majors with a .280 batting average, 38 points higher than the Nationals.