ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Cardinals spotted the Milwaukee Brewers a two-run lead, then rallied to take a 6-2 win over Milwaukee that extended their club-record 17th consecutive win, and much more importantly, clinching the second National League wild-card berth for the Major League Baseball postseason tournament that starts next week with the Wild Card games in both leagues.
Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' longtime pitching ace, won his 17th game of the year, going six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four in a magnificent performance which also included laying down a perfect squeeze bunt in the fourth that tied the game.
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Milwaukee, who had clinched the National League Central Division title on Sunday, took the lead in the top of the fourth on a two-run homer by Luis Urias, his 22nd of the year, into the left-field seats for what turned out to be the Brewers' only runs on the night. Dylan Carlson cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to right-center, his 16th of the year. Later, with runners on first and third, Wainwright laid down perfect squeeze bunt back to box, where he was thrown out at first but drove in Harrison Bader with the tying run that made it 2-2.
The Cardinals took the lead for good in the home half of the fifth, starting with a double by Paul Goldschmidt and a Tyler O'Neill single to right that brought in Goldschmidt, with O'Neill going to third on an error by the right fielder. A Nolan Arenado sacrifice fly to center scored O'Neill to make it 4-2.
The Cardinals then put the game away and clinched the wild card spot in the sixth and seventh, with solo home runs by Jose Rondon, a pinch-hit shot that was his third, and Arenado, who hit his 34th of the year to left-center, tying the club record for most homers in a single season by a third baseman. Giovanny Gallegos then set down Milwaukee in the ninth, with Bader catching a fly ball to end the game and give the Cardinals their 16th postseason appearance since 1996, when the current ownership group, led by Bill DeWitt, Jr., bought the team from Anheuser-Busch.
The 17-game winning streak is the longest in the National League since 1951, when the then-New York Giants won 16 in a row en route to the National League pennant in the famous playoff series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Giants, however, lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series during the Yankees' famed five straight World Championship string, winning the Series nine times in 24 years.
The Cardinals continue their series against Milwaukee on Wednesday and Thursday, then conclude the regular season this coming weekend against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The Cardinals will play the National League Wild Card Game next Wednesday, Oct. 6 at either the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants, whoever finishes second in the National League Western Division. The winner will meet either the Dodgers or Giants in the National League Division Series, starting Oct. 8-9.
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