Cubs beat Cardinals 5-0 for 98th win, most since 1945

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta checks the runner at first during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) Jake Arrieta struck out 10 in seven innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the sloppy St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 on Friday for their 98th victory, the most since they last played in the World Series in 1945.

Arrieta (18-7) allowed five hits and walked one, Anthony Rizzo had three hits and Ben Zobrist drove in two runs as the Cubs tied a team record with their 56th home win. They moved within one victory or one Washington loss of clinching home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

Chicago scored four runs in the first inning off Mike Leake (9-11) and dropped the Cardinals a game behind the Mets and Giants for the two NL wild-card berths.

Pedro Strop came off the disabled list to work the eighth, and Travis Wood and Carl Edwards Jr. finished the five-hitter.

Rizzo, Zobrist and Chris Coghlan drove in runs in the first off Leake, who lasted 3 1/3 innings and is winless in four starts since recovering from shingles.

Leake allowed another run on one of two wild pitches. Cardinals' gaffes included Kolten Wong face-planting into the turf chasing Rizzo's first-inning double and Matt Adams getting picked off first.

Leake gave up five runs, seven hits and three walks. Manager Mike Matheny used six relievers.

The Cardinals are hoping to return to Wrigley Field in two weeks. But that requires earning one of the two wild-card berths and then winning the single-elimination game for a spot in the division series.

Zobrist's fourth-inning groundout added another run for Chicago (98-55), which has won four straight.

The Cubs have so much depth as they seek their first World Series title since 1908 that Arrieta, last year's NL Cy Young Award winner, is likely No. 3 playoff starter behind Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks.


Cardinals: LF Matt Holliday (broken right thumb) took batting practice off RHP Mike Mayers before the game. ''He blistered a couple balls,'' Matheny said. ''It was exciting to see.'' Holliday will likely have another BP session before he's activated. . SS Aledmys Diaz (arm fatigue) was out of the lineup.

Cubs: Strop (knee, groin) worked around a hit batter in his first appearance since Aug. 10. He's expected to pitch at least three more times before the playoffs.


Arrieta and Cardinals 2B Matt Carpenter were college teammates at TCU. Arrieta was Carpenter's wedding groomsman. Yet Carpenter can't solve his friend. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, leaving him 0 for 24 in the regular season against Arrieta.


LHP Jaime Garcia will take the Cardinals rotation spot of struggling RHP Luke Weaver on Monday vs. Cincinnati.


RHP Jason Hammel (15-9, 3.56 ERA), contending for the final Cubs postseason rotation spot, faces rookie RHP Alex Reyes (3-1, 1.08) on Saturday.