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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Austin Gomber learned plenty about pressure during a 15-game stint in the St. Louis Cardinals‘ bullpen earlier this season.The left-hander used that experience to his advantage on Wednesday night.Gomber tossed six shutout innings in his fourth start of the year Manny Pina Jersey , Marcell Ozuna homered and the Cardinals won their season-high eighth straight game, 4-2 over the Washington Nationals.The Cardinals, who are 18-9 since the All-Star break, captured their sixth successive series after taking the first three of the four-game set.Gomber gave up three hits, struck out six and walked four. He wriggled out of a pair of jams while nursing a 1-0 lead.“I think being in the bullpen kind of helped me in these situations,” Gomber said. “Even when the bases get loaded, I never feel any panic. It’s just something that you’ve got to become more comfortable with.”Gomber ended his 99-pitch outing by striking out three successive batters after giving up a leadoff double to Bryce Harper in the sixth.“This guy gets after it,” St. Louis interim manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s not going to back down from anyone.”Gomber (3-0) struck out Michael A. Taylor looking with the bases loaded to end the fourth. He retired Anthony Rendon on a flyball with runners on first and third in the fifth.Daniel Murphy homered in the ninth for Washington, which has lost four in a row and seven of nine to fall below .500 and nine games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The current skid began with a loss to the Cubs on a two-out, walk-off grand slam.“When you’re in a playoff race, we’ve got to score first, we’ve got to score early,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We can’t squander the opportunities that we get and we’ve been doing that.”Ozuna homered in the second inning, his 14th of the season and his first since July 30, covering 62 plate appearances.Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina added run-scoring hits for St. Louis, which improved to 19-9 since Mike Matheny was fired and replaced by Shildt on July 15.Bud Norris pitched the ninth to pick up his 23rd save in 27 opportunities,St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 33 games with a walk in the fifth. It’s the longest current streak in the majors. Carpenter left the game in the seventh after he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Matt Grace http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authent...cia-jersey , but X-rays were negative.Carpenter does not expect to miss any time.“The pain and swelling started to go down a bit,” Carpenter said. “I definitely dodged a bullet there.”Washington starter Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) left in the fifth inning after he fell on his wrist on a play at the plate following a wild pitch. Hellickson gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.Hellickson realizes the Nationals’ chances of making the postseason are dwindling.“We’re going to need a lot of help, that’s for sure,” Hellickson said. “We’ve made it pretty tough on ourselves here.”Bader, who had three hits, also made a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Harper in the fourth. Bader scampered home on a wild pitch in the fifth inning for a 2-0 lead.“We’ve known all year that we’re capable of playing this type of baseball,” Bader said. “It’s nice to see it come out in between the white lines. Everything’s rolling together and we’re just going to try and preserve it the best we can.”The Cardinals, who have an NL-best 12-2 mark in August, remain one game behind Philadelphia for the second wild-card spot. They are four games behind Chicago in the NL Central.TRAINER’S ROOMNationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (pinched nerve in neck) threw a simulated game on Wednesday. He threw around 70 pitches and could be ready to return from the disabled list early next week, manager Dave Martinez said.Cardinals: LHP Brett Cecil was activated from the DL on Wednesday. Cecil, who had been sidelined with inflammation in his right foot, pitched four scoreless innings in four appearances with Triple-A Memphis. LHP Tyler Webb was optioned to Memphis.UP NEXTRHP Tanner Roark (7-12, 4.12) will face RHP Luke Weaver (6-10, 4.66) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday. Roark has won his last four decisions. Weaver is 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in nine career games against NL East foes. ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Matt Shoemaker was excited to be back on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authent...cia-jersey , and the right-hander was rather effective in his return. Shoemaker threw five scoreless innings in his first start for the Angels in more than five months , since the opening weekend of the season after also missing the final 3 1/2 months last year with a right forearm strain, to get them started in a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.“Matty looked like he didn’t skip a beat from what we saw when he was pitching well throughout his career,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “His stamina is not quite there, but he maintained his stuff, maintained his velocity.”After singles by two of the first three batters he faced, Shoemaker retired 13 of his last 14. He walked Shin-Soo Choo with two outs in the third before Rougned Odor grounded into a double play — the MLB-best 148th turned by the Angels this season.“You don’t really call it nerves. I guess it’s partly that, partly adrenaline, especially having this long of a layoff,” Shoemaker said. “Best way to sum it up, excited, ready to go, get out there, step up on the mound and just go out there and pitch. A lot of fun.”Shoemaker said he felt great physically after he struck out three and threw 42 of 62 pitches for strikes. He missed 134 games after going on the disabled list following his March 31 start. His final game in 2017 came in mid-June of that season.Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar said Shoemaker was mixing his pitches well to keep hitters off balance.“He had a good fastball and a good split finger,” Profar said. Taylor Ward snapped a scoreless tie with his seventh-inning homer , a two-run shot that helped make rookie reliever Taylor Cole (1-2) a first-time winner. Cole went 1 1/3 innings after relieving Shoemaker.Blake Parker, the sixth Angels pitcher Domingo Santana Jersey , worked the ninth for his 14th save.All of the Los Angeles runs came off Zac Curtis (0-1), the third pitcher for the Rangers on a night they started the game with two scoreless innings by reliever Jeffrey Springs before fellow rookie Ariel Jurado’s four innings.“Those two kids threw the ball extremely well,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Put six zeroes on the board to get you to the seventh, that’s about the best you can ask for.”Jose Fernandez led off the Angels seventh against Curtis with a single and Ward, their 2015 first-round draft pick in his 18th big league game, lined a shot into the left field seats for his third homer. Curtis then struck out Jose Briceno, but the Los Angeles catcher reached on a wild pitch and later scored on David Fletcher’s single . Joey Gallo had an RBI double that ricocheted off the right field wall in the bottom of the inning, and Texas had the bases loaded with two outs when Justin Anderson struck out pinch-hitter Ronald Guzman .SHORT HOPSAdrian Beltre, baseball’s active career hits leader, led off the Texas ninth with his 3,145th career hit. … Elvis Andrus had three of the Rangers five hits. … The Rangers (60-78) were officially eliminated from AL West contention with the loss.TRAINER’S ROOMAngels: OF Justin Upton was held out of his second game since a mild concussion Saturday. “Better but he’s not quite ready,” Scioscia said. “There’s a protocol when there’s a concussion that you have to follow.” … RHP Shohei Ohtani was evaluated after coming out of his pitching return early Sunday, and Scioscia is hopeful the two-way rookie will be good to make his next scheduled start Sunday. Scioscia said Ohtani’s elbow feels great.Rangers: Utility infielder Hanser Alberto is expected to be activated off the DL on Tuesday. He has been out since Aug. 25, a day after a right hamstring strain on the same day he was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.UP NEXTA matchup of lefty starters when Andrew Heaney (8-8) pitches for the Angels and Mike Minor (10-7) goes for the Rangers. Heaney, 0-3 with a 10.38 in three previous starts at Texas, threw six scoreless innings in a win Thursday at AL West-leading Houston. Minor will make his 25th start after missing all of 2015-16 (torn labrum left shoulder) and pitching exclusively in relief for Kansas City last year.

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