Chicago Cubs clinch NL Central division with win

As the Cardinals celebrated in their clubhouse, Chicago infielder Donnie Murphy sat at his locker, expressing the hope that one day the Cubs could experience that feeling.

“I wanted to do that”, Lester said.

Lackey pitched six innings of two-hit ball and got the win as his Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central title with a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday. The Cubs stumbled their way through the first few months of the season, piling up a 43-45 record and sending just one player, closer Wade Davis, to the All-Star game.

“I’m telling all the young guys, ‘Don’t put the goggles on.’ It’s your first time; celebrate”, Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta said. 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. Maddon thought Baez might be able to play Tuesday.

PITTSBURGH – Josh Bell hit his 25th homer, and Gregory Polanco added a solo shot as Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore. Chicago stopped his streak of winning seven consecutive starts, the longest by any Cardinals rookie since Ted Wilks in 1944. In that span, he struck out eight and walked none. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant started the inning with singles and Russell drove a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Jason Heyward followed Russell with a run-scoring double.

Rizzo was hit by a 99 miles per hour fastball on the first pitch he saw from Wacha with two outs and nobody on in the first. Later in the first, Dexter Fowler tripled and scored when Paul DeJong’s two-out grounder was booted by fill-in shortstop Mike Freeman.

The Cardinals erected metal barricades along the sidewalks surrounding Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village ahead of the final homestand because of protests following the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on September 15. Any plans the NL East champions had of Harper coming back from his knee injury Monday night were dashed due to flu-like symptoms. He was rested Sunday after starting 16 of Chicago’s previous 17 games.

“After a game like Monday night”, the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman said of their 10-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs, “you can either get behind early and roll over or do what we did”.

St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez also had to work hard for his outs, making it through just 4 1/3 innings and 92 pitches before Matheny hooked him after Ian Happ flied out for the fifth inning’s first out.

On the mound tonight for the Cubs will be Jon Lackey (11-11, 4.67 ERA) with Michael Wacha (12-8, 4.00 ERA) getting the start for the Cardinals.

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