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Cubs claim NL Central crown with 5-1 win over Cardinals

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The magic number is now zero as the Cubs make the playoffs for the third straight year.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs claimed their second straight NL Central title with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The win also sends the Cubs into the postseason for the third straight year, the first time that’s happened since their three straight NL Pennants from 1906-1908.

John Lackey gave up a run in the second inning to put the Cubs behind early. Meanwhile, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was nearly unhittable the first two times through the lineup, giving up just two singles to Jon Jay.

But Cards manager Mike Matheny let Wacha, who cruised through the first six innings without breaking a sweat, go out to start the seventh inning. The third time through the order, the Cubs jumped all over him. After the Cubs started the inning with singles by Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell gave the Cubs the lead for good with a three-run home run. Following that, doubles by Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and a pinch-hit double by Tommy La Stella stretched the Cubs lead to 5-1.

Lackey was brilliant for six innings, giving up just the one run on two hits. After that, the Cardinals only threatened once, when they loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. However, Carl Edwards Jr. got Dexter Fowler to fly out to end the threat.

Consider this a brief recap and an open thread to discuss the Cubs 2017 NL Central title. Al will have a full recap tomorrow.