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Cardinals secure Central

The Cardinals became the first major-league team to clinch a playoff spot, winning the Central for the third time in five seasons. A few hours after the Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks 7-0 Saturday, the berth was clinched when San Francisco lost to San Diego 5-1. When Chicago lost at Cincinnati, the division title was assured.

St. Louis (97-50) can only be matched in the division by the Cubs (81-65), who lost the season series with the Cardinals 11-8. In addition, the Giants' loss meant that the second-place teams in both the East and West will have 96 wins or fewer.

Because of that, if the Cardinals and the Cubs were to finish in a tie, both would be guaranteed playoff berths. Under baseball's rules, St. Louis would be awarded the division title because it won the season series.

Chris Carpenter felt a twinge in his biceps and called it a day after pitching just three-plus innings. He and the Cardinals thought a serious injury probably was avoided by the decision.

BRAVES 4, MARLINS 2: Jaret Wright allowed just three hits in 8 innings and visiting Atlanta dealt another blow to Florida's fading hopes in the wild-card race. Wright struck out five, walked one, hit a batter and won for only the second time in nine career outings against the Marlins.

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