By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Paul Goldschmidt and the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central title Tuesday night by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 behind six strong ins from Miles Mikolas.
Andrew Knizner hit a two-run homer and Goldschmidt added two RBIs as St. Louis sealed its first division crown since 2019 and fourth straight playoff berth by defeating the team that won last year’s NL Central Championship. This marks the third straight year the Cardinals have wrapped up a postseason spot with a victory over the Brewers.
The Cardinals (90-65) guaranteed themselves at least a tie with second-place Milwaukee (82-72), and they now own the tiebreaker because the victory Tuesday gave St. Louis an insurmountable 10-8 lead in the season series.
The Brewers remain 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the final NL wild card. The Phillies won the season series with Milwaukee and would get the playoff bid if the two teams end up tied.
St. Louis trailed Milwaukee in the NL Central standings for much of the season and was four games back on the morning of July 31. The Cardinals are 37-17 and the Brewers 25-28 since.
The Cardinals grabbed sole possession of first place on Aug. 6 and have been there ever since as part of an exciting season that’s included Albert Pujols hitting his 700th career homer and Goldschmidt making a convincing MVP case.
Tuesday’s clincher didn’t feature much suspense as St. Louis scored the first six runs to delight the large contingent of Cardinals fans at American Family Field.
Mikolas (12-13) struck out nine and allowed only four hits and one walk. The Brewers’ lone run off him came in the sixth when Rowdy Tellez hit his 34th homer.
Milwaukee trailed 2-0 when starter Adrian Houser (6-10) left due to a strained right groin with one out in the fourth. Houser was pitching to Pujols when the right-hander reacted with obvious discomfort.
Brent Suter took over and allowed a two-out homer to Knizner that made it 4-0. The homer was Knizner’s third of the season and ended his 0-for-22 slump.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said there’s a possibility starting pitchers Aaron Ashby and Freddy Peralta also could work out of the bullpen during this stretch run now that they’ve returned from the injured list.
“I think there’s a chance you see Freddy and Aaron in both roles,” Counsell said.
Peralta started and pitched two innings before Ashby worked 1 2/3 ins of relief Sunday in the Brewers’ 2-1 loss at Cincinnati. That marked the first appearances for both of them since getting activated.
LHP José Quintana (6-6, 3.03 ERA) starts for the Cardinals and RHP Brandon Woodruff (12-4, 3.18) pitches for the Brewers in the final regular-season matchup between the teams Wednesday.
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