ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Jack Flaherty fired two-hit ball over seven innings and the St. Louis Cardinals clinched their first NL Central title in five years by ripping the Chicago Cubs, 9-0. Matt Carpenter’s three-run blast gave the Cards an eight-run cushion. Dexter Fowler belted a two-run homer in the second and Paul Goldschmidt added a solo blast after his RBI single put the Cardinals ahead in the first inning.
Manager Joe Maddon will not be back with the Cubs next season after they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. Maddon led Chicago to the postseason the previous four years and was on the bench when the 2016 Cubs won the World Series to end a 108-year championship drought. Chicago was poised to reach the postseason this month until a nine-game losing streak led to the Cubs’ elimination.