Cubs back in playoffs after beating Cardinals to clinch division

Cubs setting up for playoffs in series vs. Reds

Cubs back in playoffs after beating Cardinals to clinch division

Not only did St. Louis have to watch its archrival celebrate on its field in a stadium filled with the opponents' fans, it also reached the brink of elimination for the NL's second wild-card spot.

The Cubs finished the season series against the Cardinals 14-5, their most wins since going 15-3 in 1978.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks appears likely to land somewhere among the four starters after he pitched five shutout innings, allowed four hits and struck out nine on Thursday in Chicago's 2-1, 11-inning victory over the Cardinals. For apparently his final regular-season start, Lackey fared well - allowing two hits and one run while striking out three - and will end the season with 12 wins. At the All-Star break, the Cubs were 43-45 and 5.5 back of the surprising Milwaukee Brewers and the certainty of another postseason berth did not seem 100 percent assured.

Cubs back in playoffs after beating Cardinals to clinch division
Cubs back in playoffs after beating Cardinals to clinch division

A pair of doubles by Javier Baez and the red-hot Jason Heyward scored another run, and Tommy La Stella capped the inning's scoring with yet another double. The Cardinals are 1-4 in Lynns last 5 home starts vs. Cubs, 0-7 in Lynns last 7 starts vs. Cubs and the Cubs are 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.

Facing a lineup filled mostly with youngsters and backups one night after the Cubs clinched the division title, Lynn fell behind 1-0 on Happ's 23rd home run of the season. Addison Russell hit the game-winning three-run home run in the seventh, and Wade Davis closed out the game by getting Randal Grichuk to fly out to the wall in center field.

Kyle Hendricks, the righthander with the 86 miles per hour fastball but impeccable command, struck out two of the three men he faced in the Cardinals' first.

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Thursday that he has not settled on a rotation as he ponders the best-of-five NL Division Series, which opens on October 6 in Washington against the Nationals.

However, he went to confirm that he still remains a Cardinals fan. The Cardinals trail the Colorado Rockies by four games in the National League Wild Card race with just three games remaining in the regular season, therefore season over.

Is John Lackey headed for retirement after the season? Louis Cardinals, or a Milwaukee Brewers loss. Lynn will test the free agency market in the offseason.

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"I always stand up here and tell you I think we're just a few games or something happening away from having things work out and we can still achieve what we want to achieve", Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. He made it look easier than it ought to be to get to the point where he is.

Hendricks could be in line to start the Cubs' playoff opener, as the 27-year-old has been sharp of late. "Couple all that with our bullpen, where we've got some guys that are kind of going on fumes".

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