CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Hendricks went eight innings in another strong start, Kris Bryant homered and the Chicago Cubs moved closer to the NL Central championship and dealt another hit to St. Louis’ playoff hopes, beating the Cardinals 8-4 on Friday.
The Cubs came into the final weekend of the regular season with a franchise-record fourth straight trip to the postseason assured and their third division title in a row in sight. They began the day with a one-game lead over Milwaukee, with the Brewers playing Detroit on Friday night.
St. Louis dropped its fourth in a row after being swept by Milwaukee. The Cardinals came in trailing Los Angeles by a game for the second wild card, with the Dodgers visiting San Francisco.
Hendricks (14-11) gave up two runs and seven hits. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his past seven outings.
Bryant made it 3-0 with a long solo drive to center against Adam Wainwright for just his second homer in 27 games. The 2016 NL MVP sat out the previous two because of a bruised left wrist and has two stints on the disabled list this season because of left shoulder inflammation.
Daniel Murphy had two hits, two runs and an RBI. He singled and scored in a two-run first, doubled and came around in the fifth, and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Anthony Rizzo had an RBI single and sacrifice fly.
Albert Almora drove in two with a single against Dominic Leone to cap a three-run eighth, making it 8-2, and the Cubs won their third in a row after losing four of six.
Wainwright (2-4) came in with an 11-2 lifetime record at Wrigley Field. But he lasted five innings, allowing four runs and five hits, in what could be his final start for the Cardinals. The three-time All-Star has an expiring contract and was on the disabled list three times this season because of hamstring and elbow injuries.
Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn’t sure if reliever Pedro Strop (strained left hamstring) will pitch this weekend. The right-hander still feels some discomfort on the landing throwing off the mound. Strop has been sidelined since Sept. 13, when he was hurt running to first on a double-play grounder at Washington. … The Cubs activated C Bobby Wilson, who was acquired Aug. 30 from Minnesota on Friday. The Twins placed him on the 10-day disabled list Aug. 24 because of a sprained right ankle.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (17-4, 2.94 ERA) looks to win his fifth straight start, after holding San Francisco to two runs and two hits in seven innings on Sunday.
Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (4-2, 2.47) tries to shake off back-to-back losses after going 4-0 in his first nine starts for Chicago following a trade from Texas. He homered against Pittsburgh on Monday but got outpitched by Jameson Taillon.
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