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Chicago at St. Louis

Venue: Busch Stadium

While they had already clinched a playoff spot, the St. Louis Cardinals have finally wrapped up the NL Central.

The Cardinals now give the ball to ace Adam Wainwright as they try to keep pace in the race for the league's best record Saturday against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Matt Holliday and David Freese both homered and Yadier Molina drove in three runs as St. Louis (95-65) locked up its first division title in four years with Friday's 7-0 win.

"I think relentless is probably the term that might sum it up," said manager Mike Matheny, whose team has won four straight by a combined 17-4 score. "It's extremely special."

Gearing up for their third consecutive postseason appearance, the Cardinals remain tied with Atlanta for the NL's best record. They are assured of home-field advantage when the NL division series starts Thursday.

"We're all embracing this and understanding what we've accomplished," Freese said. "We've been through so much."

St. Louis now turns to Wainwright (18-9, 3.01 ERA), who was pushed up a day to put him in line to start Game 1 of the NLDS.

"What had as much factor of anything was sitting and talking with him about what he feels gives him the best chance to be successful, and just continuing to treat the ace of the staff and as if were the ace of the staff," Matheny told MLB's official website. "(We) continue to listen to these guys and how their body feels, and he feels good. He's been on regular rest for a while."

Wainwright, who can tie Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the NL lead in wins, is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his last four starts. He yielded three runs in seven-plus innings to beat Washington 4-3 on Monday.

"It's amazing that once he gets going, how different his stuff looks," Matheny said of Wainwright, who settled down after giving up two runs in the first. "It doesn't matter what he looks like early, he's going to put it together."

The right-hander has surprisingly had a rough time against the woeful Cubs (66-94) since last season, going 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in seven outings.

Loser in 12 of 16 overall, Chicago has hit .197, including .105 with runners in scoring position, during a 1-6 stretch on the road. The Cubs have now witnessed three different opponents clinch within a week.

"I've already said it," manager Dale Sveum said. "You get something out of it."

Starlin Castro had three of the team's seven hits Friday. Castro, hitting a career-low .246, is batting .463 with five extra-base hits in his last 11 games versus St. Louis.

The Cubs give the ball to Edwin Jackson (8-17, 4.74), the major league leader in losses. The right-hander allowed three runs in six innings Sunday in a 5-2 defeat to Atlanta, dropping to 1-6 since the beginning of August.

Jackson is 0-3 with a 9.68 ERA in his last four starts in St. Louis. Molina has hit him hard, going 10 for 21 with three homers in their matchups.

Allen Craig is 7 for 15 against Jackson, but he remains sidelined with a Lisfranc fracture. Craig was ruled out of the NLDS but could return if the Cardinals advance.

"If we get to the NLCS or World Series, you never know," he said.

Filling in for Craig, Matt Adams is batting .359 with six homers, 13 RBIs and 14 runs over a 17-game stretch.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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weather image  Thundershowers. Increasing cloudiness. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Chi Cubs5th NL Central3852.422134-6 L 6
St. Louis2nd NL Central5042.54326-4 W 3

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Chi Cubs
E. BonifacioOblique
K. FujikawaForearm
J. McDonaldShoulder
St. Louis
J. GarciaShoulder
J. KellyHamstring
Y. MolinaThumb
K. SiegristForearm, shoulder
M. WachaShoulder
Series Game Log
Apr 4PITPIT 12-2Cole Miller 
Apr 5PITSTL 6-1Kelly Liriano 
Apr 6PITPIT 2-1Watson Wainwright 
Apr 25STLSTL 1-0Miller Cole 
Apr 26STLPIT 6-1Pimentel Lyons 
Apr 27STLSTL 7-0Wainwright Volquez 
May 9PITPIT 6-4Wilson Martinez 
May 10PITPIT 4-3Hughes Lynn 
May 11PITSTL 6-5Miller Morton 
Jul 7STLSTL 2-0Neshek Wilson 
Jul 8STLSTL 5-4Rosenthal Frieri 
Jul 9STLSTL 5-2Lynn Cumpton 
Jul 10STL 7:15 PM EDT  
Aug 25PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 26PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 27PIT12:35 PM EDT  
Sep 1STL 2:15 PM EDT  
Sep 2STL 8:15 PM EDT  
Sep 3STL 1:45 PM EDT