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MLB roundup: Cardinals end with best record in NL

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny leads his team’s salute of the fans at Busch Stadium.

CHRIS LEE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny leads his team’s salute of the fans at Busch Stadium.

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs when they beat the visiting Chicago Cubs, 4-0, Sunday for their sixth straight win.

With the top seed, the NL Central champions will host the wild-card winner in Game 1 of a Division Series on Thursday.

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Joe Kelly (10-5) pitched 5 innings of three-hit ball in relief of Jake Westbrook as the Cardinals matched a season-high winning streak to finish 97-65, their most wins since reaching 100 in 2005. St. Louis also won six straight from April 30-May 5.

Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson, and Tony Cruz drove in runs for St. Louis.

Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter went 0 for 4 and finished with a league-leading 199 hits.

Pirates 4, Reds 2 — Jordy Mercer had a triple and an inside-the-park homer as Pittsburgh completed a three-game sweep of host Cincinnati with a victory that was mostly an afterthought for teams looking ahead to a rematch in Pittsburgh.

They'll open the postseason on Tuesday night at PNC Park, the Pirates’ first playoff game in 21 years. Righthander Johnny Cueto (5-2), who is 8-2 career at PNC Park, will face lefthander Francisco Liriano (16-8), who is 0-3 in four starts against Cincinnati this season.

The Reds dropped their last five games, matching their season high.

Mercer got the Pirates’ second inside-the-park homer of the season when right fielder Jay Bruce dived and missed his sinking liner in the second inning. Mercer also had a triple off Greg Reynolds (1-3) and scored twice.

Garrett Jones homered for the Pirates, who hit nine in all during the series.

Yankees 5, Astros 1 — Mark Reynolds hit a tiebreaking homer in a four-run 14th inning, and New York went into an offseason of uncertainty with a win in Houston.

Mariano Rivera didn’t pitch in the final game of a career that started in 1995, and Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson were among the players unsure whether they had played their final games for the Yankees (85-77).

Bothered by sore legs, Alex Rodriguez also didn’t play. The appeal of his 211-game drug suspension starts Monday.

Athletics 9, Mariners 0 — Sonny Gray threw five shutout innings in his final start before the playoffs, Oakland had a pair of four-run innings, and the visiting Athletics closed out the regular season with a romp in Eric Wedge’s final game as Mariners manager.

The A’s now turn their attention to the AL Division Series against Detroit that will begin Friday in Oakland, while Seattle enters the offseason with another managerial search on the docket.

The A’s scored four times in the second inning, all charged to Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez, and four more times in the fifth.

Rockies 2, Dodgers 1 — Jeff Francis came out of the bullpen to win his first start in more than three months, Michael Cuddyer won his first batting title, and Todd Helton singled in the final game of his career to help Colorado beat host Los Angeles.

The NL West champion Dodgers, who lost four of their last five games to finish 92-70, will open the Division Series at Atlanta on Thursday.

Cuddyer went 1 for 5 with three strikeouts and finished the season with a .331 batting average to win the batting title by 10 points over Atlanta’s Chris Johnson, who was held out Sunday to rest his right shoulder.

Helton was 1 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout, singling his first time up. The first baseman announced two weeks ago that he will retire after his 17th season in the big leagues. He finished with 2,519 hits, 592 doubles, and 369 home runs.

Braves 12, Phillies 5 — Evan Gattis had a two-run homer among his three hits, Elliot Johnson drove in five runs, and NL East champion Atlanta beat visiting Philadelphia to finish with its most wins (96) in nine years.

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In other games, Eric Young Jr. won the National League stolen base crown and helped the Mets rally past the Brewers, 3-2, in New York; A.J. Pollock beat out a run-scoring infield single in the eighth inning and the Diamondbacks sent Nationals manager Davey Johnson into retirement on a losing note with a 3-2 win in Phoenix; Bruce Chen pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning and the Royals beat the White Sox, 4-1, in Chicago; and Hunter Pence singled in the winning run with no outs in the ninth inning to give the Giants a 7-6 victory over the Padres at home.

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