Jaime Garcia worked eight dominant innings after getting a big early cushion, and the St. Louis Cardinals maintained their three-game lead in the National League Central with a 5-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
The Cardinals shaved their magic number to five for clinching the division after second-place Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 4-0 earlier in the day.
Matt Holliday had a pair of RBI doubles, and Kolten Wong’s two-run single capped a four-run first against rookie Tyler Wagner (0-1).
Matt Carpenter was removed after five innings with left hip tightness for precautionary reasons, the latest setback for the team. Earlier in the day, 14-game winner Carlos Martinez was shut down for the rest of the season with a strained right shoulder.
Garcia (10-5) allowed a run on seven hits, retiring 10 in a row at one point. The lefty struck out eight with no walks and reached double figures in victories for the first time since 2011.
Garcia, whose career was revived by thoracic outlet surgery in 2014, is 7-1 since Aug. 1, and the Cardinals are 10-1 in his last 11 starts.
The Cardinals are 98-57 overall and 55-25 at Busch Stadium, both major league bests, heading into the home regular-season finale on Sunday.
Milwaukee had the bullpen busy in the first when St. Louis scored four runs on five hits with two walks against Wagner, making his second career start and first since May 31.
Wong ranged far to his left at 2B to rob Jean Segura of a hit in the third.
Brewers: Jonathan Lucroy got a spot start at 1B, but manager Craig Counsell said Adam Lind will get the bulk of the playing time there, and that Lucroy, coming off a concussion, won’t catch again this season. Lucroy and Ryan Braun (lower back) both were in the Brewers lineup for the first time since Sept. 8.
Cardinals: C Yadier Molina, sidelined since Sunday by a slight ligament tear in his left thumb, will be examined Monday. The team has been hopeful he'll return before the end of the season.
John Lackey (13-9, 2.74) can become the fourth Cardinals pitcher to win 10 games at home in a season and he’s 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts against Milwaukee. Tyler Cravy (0-8, 6.21) starts for the Brewers.