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Cardinals win final game of season to claim NL Central title

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The Cardinals trounced the Cubs in the final game of the season on Sunday afternoon to claim the NL Central title. The club entered the day’s action leading the Brewers by one game. They took care of business themselves.

Paul Goldschmidt opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI single. Marcell Ozuna put a second run on the board while grounding into a double play. Dexter Fowler smacked a two-run homer in the second. The Cardinals put up a four-spot in the third thanks to an RBI single from Ozuna and a three-run Matt Carpenter home run. Goldschmidt added a solo shot in the fourth to make it 9-0.

Jack Flaherty had little issue carving through the Cubs’ lineup. He tossed seven shutout innings, yielding just a pair of hits and a walk while striking out six. Flaherty ends the season 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA and a 231/55 K/BB ratio over 196 1/3 innings.

Giovanny Gallegos worked a scoreless eighth before handing the ball to Carlos Martínez for the ninth. Martínez worked a 1-2-3 frame to seal the deal, giving the Cardinals their division crown.

The Cardinals are back in the postseason for the first time since 2015, when they also won the NL Central. They will face the Braves in the NLDS. The Brewers, meanwhile, will face the Nationals in the NL Wild Card game. The winner of that game moves on to face the Dodgers in the NLDS.

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.