By JEFF BERLINICKE/Associated Press
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) – Justin Verlander allowed one hit in three scoreless innings for the split-squad Detroit Tigers in a 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
Verlander hasn’t permitted a run in five innings this spring and has given up only two hits.
Tigers reliever Joe Nathan was roughed up for six runs while getting just two outs. He gave up five hits and walked one.
The 40-year-old Nathan had 35 saves last season, but struggled most of the year and finished with a 4.81 ERA.
Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones said he didn’t see any need for concern.
“He just got a couple of balls up today,” Jones said. “He’s always been a guy who can make any pitch. He’s always been competitive and he just needs to keep the ball down. We’ll forget today. It wasn’t that terrible.”
Bruce Rondon, a projected Tigers closer coming off elbow surgery, allowed one hit in a scoreless inning, his first since 2013.
Jerome Williams, who started for three teams last season and was claimed off waivers by the Phillies in August, pitched three innings and allowed four hits and two runs.
J.D. Martinez doubled and singled for Detroit. Jeff Francoeur had two hits and stole a base for the Phillies.
Tigers: Verlander said he feels much better this year than he did at the same point last season, when he went 15-12 with a 4.54, way below his career standards. He said he’s been working on things this spring and expects to be his old self again by opening day.
“I am pitching pretty well right now,” Verlander said. “My mechanics are much more sound than last year. I feel positive right now and I’m not concerned with velocity in spring training. Just spotting it.”
Tigers: OF Yoenis Cespedes left the game because of tightness in his left quadriceps. … RHP Joakim Soria, dealing with a blister on his throwing thumb, pitched a hitless inning.
Phillies: Joely Rodriguez is expected to make his third appearance of the spring when he starts against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Rodriguez has pitched four innings this spring, allowing only one hit and no runs.
Tigers: Shane Greene will make his second start of the spring. He struggled in his debut with the Tigers.
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