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Contreras homers again with three RBIs to help Cardinals beat Nationals 8-3

WASHINGTON (AP) — Willson Contreras hit his second homer of the series and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals 8-3 on Sunday.

Contreras hit a line drive 395-foot homer off Nationals reliever Derek Law in the seventh. He also singled and scored twice with three RBIs. The two-run shot was his ninth of the season and third homer in the past five days. Contreras said he recently switched from 33.75 inch to 34-inch bat.

“He got me a little out front," Contreras said. "But I used a (34-inch bat) and I was able to stay through the zone long which helped me to make contact with that curveball right there. Because being honest, I wasn’t looking for curveball at all.”

Nolan Gorman added a single, double and two RBIs. Gorman has enjoyed his stay in D.C. this weekend, going seven for his last 11 after a 6-for-69 (.087) slump from June 12-July 4. He has reached base safely in 46 of his last 50 games.

Nolan Arenado has also had a great series against the Nationals. The veteran third baseman had a two-run single in the three-run fifth inning. He has seven hits in the series.

“There was a decent amount of fight in them yesterday," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said on the bounce back following 14-6 loss Saturday. "Today some really good at-bats. We’d been missing out on that two-out big hit to score a couple and Arenado came through there and drove the baseball to score two. Gorman is starting to feel better, you see him stay on some balls, which is awesome. Contreras with the homer. Overall, really good day.”

The Cardinals have won five of their last seven and have the best record in the National League since May 12 at 32-18 (.640).

Kyle Gibson (7-3) finished five innings plus three batters, allowing three runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts and two walks on 96 pitches, 61 for strikes. In his first win in three starts at Nationals Park, Gibson has now won three of his last four dating to June 14.

“My stuff was consistent again," Gibson said. "Curveball was maybe my best pitch and that doesn’t happen very often so that’s probably why you saw a little bit more of them. That’s something I worked a lot on in the bullpen.”

Three Cardinals relievers combined to record the final four scoreless frames.

Brendan Donovan singled and walked to extend his on-base streak to 20 games.

Fresh off a 10-strikeout performance against the Mets July 2, Nationals starter DJ Herz could not replicate that outing Sunday. Herz (1-3) lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts on 102 pitches, 65 for strikes.

“There were a lot of uncontrollables," Herz said. "But the one thing I could control was the two-out walk, and obviously the other walks. The walks came back to hurt me today, and that’s something I can control.”

Jesse Winker with two doubles and RBI for the Nationals, who have lost nine of their last 13.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbar (oblique strain) is nearing a return. He has been playing rehab games for Double-A Springfield, going 2-for-5 with a homer Friday night.

“I talked to him last night, he felt good,” Marmol said. “They’re obviously off today and tomorrow. We will talk to him again today and see what’s next.”

Nationals No. 3 prospect third baseman Brady House has been promoted to Triple-A Rochester. House, the 11th overall selection in the 2021 first-year amateur draft, hit .234 with 11 doubles, one triple, 13 homers and 34 RBIs in 75 games at Double-A Harrisburg.

UP NEXT

Cardinals send veteran right-hander Miles Mikolas (6-7, 5.19 ERA) against Nationals fourth straight left-handed starter, Mitchell Parker (5-4, 3.61), in the series finale Monday afternoon.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb