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Reds clinch NL Central championship

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer
The first division of the 2012 season to be clinched is the NL Central, by the Reds. (AP)

The Cincinnati Reds are the NL Central Division champions once again. With Saturday's 6-0 victory over the Dodgers, the Reds mathematically eliminated the defending World Series champion Cardinals from divisional contention, giving the Reds their third NL Central title and 10th division championship in franchise history.

More: Welcome to the 2012 postseason, Reds

Earlier Saturday, it appeared the Reds would clinch the division without having to win, as the Cubs led the Cardinals heading into the ninth inning in Chicago, 4-3. A Cardinals loss would have clinched the title for Cincinnati, but the Cardinals tied it in the ninth and won in extra innings.

It was of no concern for the Reds, as they took care of business in front of their home fans.

The clinching victory came without manager Dusty Baker, who is still in a Chicago hospital getting treatment for an irregular heartbeat. Bench coach Chris Speier has taken the helm in Baker's absence.

Also of note in this victory was the return of dominant closer Aroldis Chapman. He hadn't appeared in a game since Sept. 10, due to shoulder fatigue. Chapman worked around a walk in a 12-pitch ninth inning to close down the victory, and NL Central, for the Reds.

Here's the video footage of the clincher:

The Reds still have plenty to play for, as the top seed in each league has a huge advantage in this new playoff format, getting to face a wild-card winner that had to survive a one-game playoff. The Reds trail the Nationals by a half-game for the best record in the NL. The Giants, who play Saturday night, are only 3 1/2 games behind the Reds.

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