MLB

Cardinals assured of playoff spot

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MILWAUKEE (AP)

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched a playoff berth on the same day manager Mike Matheny turned 43.

Neither milestone caused much of a stir.

The Cardinals were calm and collected after Washington's 4-2 loss to Miami in a doubleheader opener Sunday assured the Cardinals of at least a National League wild-card berth.

Been there, done that: It's the third straight trip to the playoffs for St. Louis.

But for whatever reason, the Cardinals were uncharacteristically sloppy Sunday night in a 6-4 loss to the Brewers, with three errors. Two came in a two-run second, and catcher Yadier Molina misplayed a throw home in the seventh that helped Milwaukee rebuild a two-run cushion.

Matt Carpenter homered and singled, while St. Louis got back-to-back sacrifice flies in the sixth from eighth-place hitter Shane Robinson and pitcher Joe Kelly to briefly narrow the lead to 4-3.

Kelly (9-5) had a rough start, including a throwing error in a two-run second for Milwaukee. He allowed seven hits and six runs — three unearned — over seven innings.

Wily Peralta (11-15) got the win despite struggling through five-plus innings.

The Cardinals threatened again in the ninth with two outs. Carlos Beltran had an RBI single, and the Cardinals sent the potential go-ahead run to the plate but closer Jim Henderson got slugger Matt Adams to strike out to end the game and earn his 26th save.

For Sunday night at least, the Cardinals can take brief solace that they've made the playoffs.

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''We want to win the division and then go on and go deep into October,'' Adams said before the game.

There was no champagne on ice in the clubhouse for clinching the postseason. No victory cigars were being lit.

The Reds beat the Pirates earlier Sunday 11-3 to draw into a tie for second in the NL Central. The loss by the Cardinals left them with a two-game lead on their division rivals.

Some players in the quiet clubhouse earlier in the day were more engrossed with the Colts-49ers game on the big-screen televisions. Others busily tapped away on their smartphones.

''We're confident. We know we have a good ballclub. Everything's clicking right now,'' Adams said. ''We're happy, but we want to keep taking things day by day and then win the division and then go from there.''

Matheny said he learned of the Nationals' loss while in the weight room. There was some chit-chat, and Matheny said he would have a quick conversation about it with his club after Sunday night's game.

Don't expect the Cardinals to rest their players the final week just because they're in.

''Right now, we're nowhere near that,'' Matheny said. ''We've got a lot of baseball to win these next seven games.''

He's feeling spry on his birthday, and not necessarily just because St. Louis is in the lead for a division title.

''This spring, I wasn't so sure I would be able to say that, some back issues,'' Matheny said. ''But I feel really good right now.''

Left fielder Matt Holliday couldn't say the same Sunday night. Initially in the starting lineup, Holliday was scratched because of back spasms. He was replaced by Robinson.

Tagged: Brewers, Cardinals, Matt Holliday

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