Cardinals clinch playoff spot, Cubs lose sixth straight

Cardinals clinch playoff spot, Cubs lose sixth straight

Paul Goldschmidt hit the decisive ninth-inning double as the visiting St. Louis Cardinals rallied past the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Sunday to clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth.

The Cardinals (89-67) will return to postseason play for the first time since 2015.

They swept the Cubs (82-74) in a four-game series at Wrigley Field for the first time since 1921. The Cardinals lead the National League Central by three games over the Milwaukee Brewers (86-70), who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Sunday.

The reeling Cubs suffered their sixth consecutive loss and fell out of the division race. They are four games back in the NL wild-card race behind the Brewers and Washington Nationals, who hold the two spots.

Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas allowed two runs (one earned) and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. Tyler Webb (2-1) pitched out of an eighth-inning jam to earn the victory and Andrew Miller closed out the ninth to earn his sixth save.

Losing pitcher Yu Darvish (6-8) struck out 12 but allowed three runs and seven hits in his 8 1/3 innings.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant suffered a sprained right ankle running to first base in the third inning. X-Rays taken of his ankle proved negative.

The Cubs took a 1-0 first-inning lead with the help of sloppy Cardinals’ defense.

Nicholas Castellanos lined a single, took second on Bryant’s hit by pitch, went to third when Kyle Schwarber’s fly ball landed between left fielder Marcell Ozuna and center fielder Harrison Bader and scored on Yadier Molina’s passed ball.

Paul DeJong tied the game in the third inning with a solo home run. Castellanos countered with a solo homer in the sixth inning to put the Cubs ahead 2-1.

But Cardinals pinch-hitter Jose Martinez started the ninth-inning rally with a lead-off triple off Darvish. Dexter Fowler’s sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Tyler O’Neill to tie the game.

Tommy Edman hit a single, stole second base and scored on Goldschmidt’s double for the 3-2 margin.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Cubs infielder Javier Baez (hairline thumb fracture) entered the game was a pinch-runner. He hopes to return to full-time duty Tuesday.

Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong remains sidelined by a hamstring muscle strain. He has been ruled out of the next series at Arizona.

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