ST. LOUIS -- Playing at Busch Stadium has proved to be very beneficial to the Cardinals this season -- and they made certain Sunday that their home-field advantage will carry over into the National League playoffs.
A 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on the final day of the regular season assured the Cardinals that they will have the home-field advantage in both the division series and, if they advance, the National League Championship Series.
The Cardinals finished the year with the best record in the National League at 97-65, one game better than the Braves, as they tied their season high with a sixth consecutive win. They will host the winner of the wild-card game between the Reds and Pirates when the Division Series begins on Thursday.
After the Cardinals gave veteran Jake Westbrook the sentimental start in what likely was his last appearance in a St. Louis uniform, Joe Kelly came in at the start of the second inning and allowed just three hits over the next 5 1/3 innings as the Cardinals improved their season record at home to 54-27, winning 13 of their 15 home games this month.
Westbrook, who has an option on his contract for next season, made his first start since Aug. 21 and worked just the first inning, allowing a two-out double to Anthony Rizzo. After the final out of the inning was a fly out to Carlos Beltran, Westbrook asked for and got the baseball.
Kelly, 10-5, struck out five and did not walk a batter. Jeff Samardzija took the loss for the Cubs, who finished the year with a 66-96 record, 31 games behind the Cardinals, in last place in the NL Central.
Kelly helped give the Cardinals the lead when he doubled and scored in the third, and a two-run fourth inning increased the lead to 3-0. Doubles by Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso produced the first run, and Descalso scored on a single by Shane Robinson. The Cardinals added their final run in eighth on an RBI double by Tony Cruz.
Relievers Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist finished off the shutout, combining to record the final eight outs of the game.
About the only negative for the Cardinals on the day was that Matt Carpenter went 0-for-4 and ended the season with 199 hits, going hitless in his final eight at-bats since Friday in trying to become the first Cardinal with 200 or more hits in a season since Albert Pujols in 2003.
NOTES: Dale Sveum has a meeting scheduled with Cubs President Theo Epstein on Monday in Chicago at which time he is expected to learn whether he will be return as the team's manager for next season. ... Yadier Molina was in the Cardinals' starting lineup Sunday but was replaced by Cruz before the first pitch so he could get an extra ovation from the Busch Stadium crowd. ... Matt Holliday did not play for the Cardinals, allowing him to finish the season with an exact .300 batting average. He got to that level for the first time on Saturday with his 22nd home run. ... The Cardinals will take Monday off and then hold workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the first game of the division series on Thursday.