ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matt Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs when they beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 Sunday for their sixth straight win.
With the top seed, the NL Central champions will host the wild-card winner in Game 1 of an NL division series on Thursday.
Joe Kelly (10-5) pitched 5 1-3 innings of three-hit ball in relief of Jake Westbrook as the Cardinals matched a season high winning streak to finish 97-65, their most since reaching 100 in 2005. St. Louis also won six straight from April 30-May 5.
Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson and Tony Cruz drove in runs for St. Louis.
The Cubs finish last in the Central at 66-96.
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook pitched one inning before Kelly came on in relief. Westbrook is not likely to be on the postseason roster and the Cardinals are not expected to pick up his option for next season.
Kelly struck out five in his first relief appearance since joining the starting rotation on July 6.
Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist contributed to the five-man shutout.
Second baseman Matt Carpenter went 0 for 4 and finished with a league-leading in 199 hits.
The Cardinals scored twice in the fourth off Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija (8-13) to take a 3-0 lead. Matt Adams and Descalso hit back-to-back doubles to push the advantage to 2-0. Robinson followed with a run-scoring single.
Samardzija gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings.
Jay, who drove in a run with a single in the third, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games with a single in the first.
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina took the field to start the game, but was removed before the first pitch. Molina received a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout. Right fielder Carlos Beltran was taken out at the start of the fifth inning and also left to a loud applause.
NOTES: St. Louis recognized the 50th anniversary of Stan Musial’s last game as a Cardinal with commemorative patches on their uniforms. Musial went 2 for 3 and singled in his final at-bat of a 3-2 win over Cincinnati. … St. Louis manager Mike Matheny indicated that Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) will start the first game of the NL division series. The Cubs closed the season losing 41 of their last 59. …A crowd of 44,808 gave the Cardinals their 25th sellout of the season.
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