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Gomber takes no-hit bid to seventh in first start

Back-to-back stellar debuts give Cardinals hope in young pitchers
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

CINCINNATI -- Despite their largely stagnant season and fourth-place standing in the National League Central, the Cardinals are unlikely to dismantle their roster prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. They profile as neither traditional buyers nor sellers, and instead plan to spend the next week trying to reorganize, reshuffle, augment -- the verbs varying amongst club officials -- a unit they believe has the foundation to contend in the near future.

The Cardinals' ability to continuously develop talented young pitchers provides the bedrock for that belief, and the past two nights at Great American Ball Park have offered tangible proof. Bolstered by another dominant debut start, St. Louis emerged with a 4-2 win over the Reds on Tuesday, when Dexter Fowler's 11th-inning homer salvaged a night Austin Gomber spent aiming for history.

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CINCINNATI -- Despite their largely stagnant season and fourth-place standing in the National League Central, the Cardinals are unlikely to dismantle their roster prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. They profile as neither traditional buyers nor sellers, and instead plan to spend the next week trying to reorganize, reshuffle, augment -- the verbs varying amongst club officials -- a unit they believe has the foundation to contend in the near future.

The Cardinals' ability to continuously develop talented young pitchers provides the bedrock for that belief, and the past two nights at Great American Ball Park have offered tangible proof. Bolstered by another dominant debut start, St. Louis emerged with a 4-2 win over the Reds on Tuesday, when Dexter Fowler's 11th-inning homer salvaged a night Austin Gomber spent aiming for history.

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A day after Daniel Poncedeleon fired seven no-hit innings in his MLB debut, Gomber held the Reds hitless for 6 1/3 in his first Major League start, providing a dazzling second act in what's been a short but banner week for young Cards hurlers.

Gomber and Poncedeleon became the first pair of rookie teammates to carry consecutive no-hitters into the seventh since 1964, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

"Pretty cool, huh?" Gomber said. "I was talking to Ponce about it, and he said, 'Go do it.' I said, 'I'm probably not going to take a no-hitter into the seventh.'"

But that's exactly what Gomber did, and the lefty may have been poised to go deeper had his night not been interrupted by bizarre circumstances. After barreling through the Reds lineup for six innings, Gomber was left standing on the mound, waiting for officials at Great American Ball Park to silence the stadium's alarm system, which went off accidentally during the seventh-inning stretch. A 7 1/2-minute delay followed, after which Gomber allowed his first hit of the night on a Joey Votto single.

Gomber then surrendered a game-tying home run to Eugenio Suarez, erasing the Cardinals' two-run cushion and ending Gomber's night.

"It wasn't a very favorable thing to have happen and at a very inconvenient time," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. "It breaks up the rhythm. … It was probably just one of those things, but pretty odd timing."

"I'm not going to blame giving up a home run on a delay," Gomber said.

Dramatics aside, Gomber's rotation audition -- coupled with his impressive 15-game cameo as a reliever -- only reassured the Cardinals of what they have. Along with Dakota Hudson, Ryan Helsley and the injured Alex Reyes, the Cardinals' enviable pipeline of pitching prospects has them leaning toward retooling, not rebuilding. It is this pool that they'll likely pluck from in the coming weeks to plug their leaky bullpen, where Gomber and Poncedeleon could assume larger short-term roles.

They've already helped prop up a rotation that ranks as baseball's youngest. Its 3.45 ERA ranks second in the National League and third in the Majors.

"You can never have too much pitching," a high-ranking club official told MLB.com on Tuesday. "Everyone says it, but it's true."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Austin Gomber