ST. LOUIS—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 last night.
Gomber tossed six shutout innings in his fourth start of the year, and Marcell Ozuna homered, as the Cardinals won their season-high eighth-straight game by doubling the Washington Nationals 4-2.
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 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.
Gomber ended his 99-pitch outing by striking out three-successive batters after giving up a lead-off double to Bryce Harper in the sixth.
Gomber (3-0) also struck out Michael A. Taylor looking with the bases loaded to end the fourth.
He later retired Anthony Rendon on a flyball with runners on first and third in the fifth.
Daniel Murphy homered in the ninth for Washington, which now 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 stressed.
“We can't squander the opportunities that we get and we've been doing that.”
Elsewhere in the NL, Chicago beat Milwaukee 8-4, Atlanta downed Miami 5-2, and L.A. edged San Francisco 4-3 (12 innings).
Minnesota beat Pittsburgh 6-4, Philadelphia upended Boston 7-4, the N.Y. Mets pounded Baltimore 16-5, Cleveland nipped Cincinnati 4-3, Houston dumped Colorado 12-1, and the L.A. Angels shaded San Diego 3-2.