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Cubs clinch NL Central with 5-1 win over Cardinals

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The Cubs clinched the NL Central on Wednesday evening, defeating the Cardinals 5-1 in St. Louis. It marks the club’s second consecutive division title and third consecutive playoff appearance.

The Cubs trailed the Cardinals 1-0 through six innings, but broke out in the seventh against starter Michael Wacha. Addison Russell belted a three-run home run and Jason Heyward hit an RBI double. After walking Rene Rivera, Wacha was lifted, but Tommy La Stella added an RBI double of his own to make it 5-1.

John Lackey pitched six effective innings for the Cubs, giving up just the one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Pedro Strop worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Hector Rondon, Brian Duensing, and Carl Edwards, Jr. combined to load the bases in the eighth inning, but managed to escape with no damage. Wade Davis sealed the deal in the ninth, working around a two-out double.

The Brewers fell behind 6-0 to the Reds after three innings, so the Cubs likely would’ve clinched anyway on Wednesday, but I’m sure they’re happy to have taken care of their own business and had the ability to celebrate on the field.

The Cubs will prepare for an NLDS matchup against the Nationals, as the Dodgers will play the winner of the Wild Card game.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.