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Cardinals clinch NL Central, beat Cubs, 7-0

St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese, right, is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese, right, is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched their first NL Central title in four years, beating the Chicago Cubs, 7-0, last night behind the strong pitching of Lance Lynn and home runs by David Freese and Matt Holliday.

St. Louis (95-65) has won six of seven and is tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NL. They are assured of home-field advantage when the NL Division Series starts Thursday.

Pirates 4, Reds 1

Marlon Byrd had three hits and Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer high off the batter’s eye, leading Pittsburgh over Cincinnati in a series that will decide which could host the NL wild-card game.

Both teams clinched postseason berths this week. Whoever wins the three-game series would be assured of hosting the one-game playoff on Tuesday night.

Braves 1, Phillies 0

Chris Johnson led off the eighth inning with a homer to spoil an otherwise dominant start by Cliff Lee, Kris Medlen allowed only two hits in eight innings and Atlanta beat Philadelphia.

Medlen and closer Craig Kimbrel combined on the shutout.

Johnson’s homer to left field snapped a streak of 16 consecutive batters retired by Lee, who allowed only three hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts in eight innings.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Yankees 3, Astros 2

David Robertson got the save as Mariano Rivera looked on, and New York got a glimpse of its future in a win that sent Houston to its team-record 13th consecutive loss.

David Adams hit a two-run double and Mark Reynolds also drove in a run for the Yankees, who stopped a four-game losing streak.

Houston dropped to 51-109, the most losses for a major league team since the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks went 51-111.

Blue Jays 6, Rays 3

R.A. Dickey slowed Tampa Bay’s stretch run, leading Toronto to a victory that stopped the Rays’ seven-game winning streak.

Dickey (14-13) allowed two runs and five hits in 7 1∕3 innings, retiring 13 of 14 during one stretch. The 38-year-old knuckleballer struggled earlier this season but finished strongly, going 5-1 with a 3.17 ERA in his last seven starts.

Royals 6, White Sox 1

James Shields struck out 10 and scattered four hits over seven innings for his 100th career win, and Kansas City beat Chicago to ensure the White Sox of their worst record since 1970.

At 62-98 with two games remaining, the White Sox will finish with the second-most losses in franchise history, ahead of only the team that went 56-106 more than four decades ago.

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