Cardinals clinch NL Central title

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ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals clinched their first NL Central title in four years, beating the Chicago Cubs 7-0 Friday night behind the strong pitching of Lance Lynn and home runs by David Freese and Matt Holliday.

St. Louis (95-65) has won six of seven and is tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NL. They are assured of home-field advantage when the NL Division Series starts on Thursday.

Adam Wainwright
(18-9) was moved up to start today, putting the St. Louis ace on track to start his team’s postseason opener against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or the Los Angeles Dodgers.

PIRATES 4, REDS 1

In Cincinnati, Marlon Byrd had three hits, and Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer high off the batter’s eye, leading Pittsburgh over Cincinnati in a series that will decide which could play host to the NL wild-card game.

Both teams clinched postseason berths this week. Whoever wins the three-game series would be assured of playing host to the one-game playoff on Tuesday night.

INDIANS 12, TWINS 6

In Minneapolis, Jason Kipnis had three hits and two RBI as Cleveland moved into a tie with Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card. The Indians’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is two.

RANGERS 5, ANGELS 3

In Arlington, Texas, Alex Rios drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, and Texas kept pace in the AL wild-card race.

The Rangers are a game behind the Indians and Rays.

BLUE JAYS 6, RAYS 3

In Toronto, R.A. Dickey slowed Tampa Bay’s stretch run, leading the Blue Jays to a win that stopped the Rays’ seven-game winning streak.

The Rays began the night with a magic number of two over Texas for clinching an AL wild-card berth.

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