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Big League Stew

Cardinals clinch first NL Central title since 2009, still looking for NL’s best record

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

All six divisions have been decided after the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central with a 7-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. The Cardinals had already clinched their third consecutive postseason appearance, but this is their first division crown since 2009. They won the NL Wild Card in 2011 and then earned a victory over the Atlanta Braves in the wild card play-in game last season.

Friday's victory came with the balanced production we're used to from St. Louis. By the fifth inning, each of their first six hitters had one hit and one run scored. MVP candidate Yadier Molina led the way, of course, driving home their first two runs with a first inning double. He finished with two hits and three RBIs. Matt Holliday and David Freese each added a solo home run in the rout. Lance Lynn tossed six scoreless innings to earn the win.

St. Louis clinching locks them in the NLDS and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds into the wild card play-in game on Tuesday. The Pirates were victorious at the Great American Ballpark on Friday, 4-1. That gives them a two-game lead over Cincinnati for home field advantage in the play-in with two games to play.

On an interesting side note, the Cardinals are the third different team to celebrate against the Cubs in the past six days. On Sunday, the Atlanta Braves celebrated their NL East title in the visitors clubhouse at Wrigley Field. One day later, the Pirates clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years at Chicago.

Here's a peak at how the Cardinals enjoyed their moment courtesy of the Cardinals on Vine.

The Cardinals are hoping for one more reason to celebrate before the weekend is over. At 95-65, they're tied with the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the NL. Atlanta is 55-24 at home this season. St. Louis is 52-27, so both would clearly covet home field advantage through the NL playoffs.

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