(Sports Network) - As long as he is slated behind Stephen Strasburg in the rotation, Nationals' starter John Lannan knows he has a tough act to follow.
Lannan, who struggled in his last start one day after Strasburg's phenomenal debut, hopes for better results tonight when Washington starts up a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Strasburg's outstanding debut came a week ago versus the Pirates, with the right-hander striking out 14 batters over seven innings of two-run ball to get a 5-2 victory. He won his second game in as many starts on Sunday, holding the Indians to just a run over 5 1/3 innings of a 9-4 triumph that helped Washington salvage the finale of a three-game series.
"I pitched well enough, kept the team in the ballgame," said Strasburg, who allowed just two hits but also walked five. "They swung the bats really well today. It was close for the first few innings, so I was happy that I was able to keep us within range."
Strasburg also struck out eight, giving him 22 over his first 12 1/3 innings, and was backed by an offense that registered 16 hits, including three each from Cristian Guzman and Ian Desmond. Roger Bernadina went 2-for-2 at the plate, including a two-run homer for the Nationals, who have won four of their last six.
Washington now turns to Lannan, who gave up five runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits and three walks over just 4 2/3 innings versus the Pirates when he followed Strasburg on Wednesday. Lannan, who had pitched to a 2.19 earned run average in his previous four starts before facing Pittsburgh, did escape with a no-decision after the Nats pulled out a 7-5 victory.
The 25-year-old lefty is 2-3 with a 5.00 ERA on the season and faces the Tigers for the first time. Lannan is 3-2 with a 3.08 ERA in eight career interleague starts.
He'll try to prevent Detroit from picking up a fourth consecutive win tonight after it swept Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Tigers took the finale of the three-game set on Sunday, 4-3, behind Miguel Cabrera's three-run homer in the eighth inning.
The blast was Cabrera's major-league leading 19th of the season and he also leads baseball with 56 RBI.
"Obviously big time players come up big in big situations," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We were hoping he'd run into one there."
Alex Avila drove in the other run with a solo homer in the seventh inning as Detroit improved to 32-6 in its last 38 interleague games at home. Armando Galarraga allowed just two runs over 7 2/3 innings, but did not factor into the decision, while closer Jose Valverde picked up his 13th save despite a run allowed in the ninth inning that snapped his scoreless-innings streak at 26.
Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson is day-to-day after exiting Sunday's game in the first inning due to back spasms. Detroit was already without Magglio Ordonez due to a strained oblique that has held him out of the lineup for the past six games. Ordonez, though, is expected to play tonight.
Detroit, which began a nine-game homestand with the sweep and is 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota for first place in the American League Central, will try to get another solid outing from Max Scherzer since his return from a brief stint at Triple-A Toledo.
The right-hander has allowed just eight runs over his last three starts, but is 1-2 in that span. Scherzer posted his second straight loss on Thursday versus the White Sox after allowing three runs over 7 1/3 innings of work.
Scherzer is 2-6 with a 6.30 ERA this season and the 25-year-old former Diamondback has faced the Nationals twice, once as a starter, without recording a decision. He started against Washington on May 10 of last year and allowed four runs over five innings.
The Tigers swept a three-game series versus the Nationals in Washington when the clubs last met in 2007. Detroit hasn't hosted the Nats franchise since the Montreal Expos came to town back in 2002, taking two of three in the set.