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Cardinals 7, Cubs 0

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- The last division champion was determined Friday night with no suspense.

Jumping to a 6-0 lead before the fourth inning was over, St. Louis wrapped up the National League Central with a 7-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium.

Lance Lynn (15-10) worked the first six innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine batters, eight in the first three innings. Lynn whiffed six straight batters at one point.

Yadier Molina drove in three runs for the Cardinals (95-65) and Matt Holliday added the 250th homer of his career in the sixth. St. Louis also clinched home-field advantage for the NL Division Series, which starts Thursday.

Travis Wood (9-12) gave up four hits and three runs in one inning for Chicago (66-94). Wood and manager Dale Sveum agreed that he would only pitch the first inning so that he could finish at 200 innings for the first time in his career.

The sellout crowd of 44,030 roared when Trevor Rosenthal retired Darwin Barney on a grounder for the final out. It's the Cardinals' 24th first-place finish all time and their 11th postseason appearance since 1996.

St. Louis didn't waste much time taking control, scoring three two-out runs in the bottom of the first on Molina's two-run double down the left field line and Jon Jay's RBI single up the middle.

David Freese made it 4-0 in the third with his ninth homer of the year, a 399-foot blast into the Cardinals' bullpen in right center.

St. Louis tacked on two runs in the fourth. Holliday took ball four with runners going from first and second, and catcher Dioner Navarro overthrew third base for an error that let Matt Carpenter score. Molina's fielder's choice grounder plated Carlos Beltran for a 6-0 advantage.

NOTES: St. Louis 1B Allen Craig, who leads the team in RBIs with 97, won't play in the NLDS, according to general manager John Mozeliak. Craig has been diagnosed with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, an injury suffered Sept. 4 in Cincinnati. The team still hopes Craig might be available for the NLCS and World Series. ... Chicago placed C Welington Castillo on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Sept. 20, with a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Castillo finished the season hitting .274 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 113 games ... The Cardinals are flip-flopping their starting pitchers for the last two games of this series, moving RHP Adam Wainwright to Saturday and RHP Joe Kelly to Sunday. The switch also keeps Wainwright on normal rest for a projected Game 1 start in the NLDS on Thursday. ... Because of the threat of inclement weather on Saturday night, St. Louis has moved the starting time up to 3:15 p.m. from 6:15.
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