Ian Happ hit a pair of two-run homers to lead the visiting Chicago Cubs past the reeling St. Louis Cardinals 8-6 Saturday night
The Cardinals (90-71) have lost four straight games as their National League Central title quest stalled. They maintained a one-game lead with one game to play over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers, who lost 3-2 in 10 innings to the Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals would host a one-game tie-breaker on Monday.
The division winner will face the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. The loser will face the Washington Nationals in the wild-card game.
Reliever Steve Cishek (4-6), the fifth of seven Cubs pitchers, earned the victory. Brandon Kintzler closed out the game for his first save.
Cubs starting pitcher Cole Hamels worked four scoreless innings and struck out eight batters. In 19 innings against the Cardinals this season he struck out 22 batters and didn’t allow a run.
Happ has played spoiler against the Cardinals this weekend, hitting three homers and driving in four runs in the two Cubs victories.
Losing pitcher Adam Wainwright (14-10) allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings on 12 hits and a career-high four homers.
Kyle Schwarber hit a first-inning solo homer, and Happ’s first two-run homer in the third inning pushed the lead to 3-0.
The Cubs pushed ahead 6-0 in the fifth with Happ’s second homer and a long solo blast by Victor Caratini.
The Cardinals got three runs back in the bottom of the inning on Harrison Bader’s solo home run and Tommy Edman’s two-run triple.
Edman’s RBI single and Paul Goldschmidt’s run-producing grounder in the seventh cut the lead to 6-5.
The Cubs responded in the eighth with Tony Kemp’s RBI single and Nico Hoerner’s sacrifice fly. But Paul DeJong cut the lead to 8-6 with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning.
Cubs outfielder Nicholas Castellanos (groin muscle tightness) remained sidelined along with shortstop Javier Baez (hairline thumb fracture) and corner infielders Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, who are out with sprained ankles.
Amid speculation that he will be fired, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was set to meet with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the game to discuss his future.
Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong remained shelved by a hamstring strain.