ST. LOUIS — Matt Carpenter came up empty Sunday in his bid for a 200-hit season. St. Louis’ second baseman could have cared less.
Carpenter and the Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs when they beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 for their sixth straight win.
“That last one (hit) was tough to find,” Carpenter said after going 0 for 4. “From an individual standpoint 200 hits is a cool thing, but more importantly we won a big game today and have the best record in the National League.”
With the top seed, the Central League champions will host the wild-card winner in Game 1 of an NL division series on Thursday.
Joe Kelly (10-5) pitched 5 1-3 innings of three-hit ball in relief of Jake Westbrook as the Cardinals matched a season high winning streak to finish 97-65, their most since reaching 100 in 2005. St. Louis also won six straight from April 30-May 5.
The Cardinals have won eight of nine and 17 of 22.
Carpenter finished with a league-leading 199 hits. He struck out in the seventh in his last opportunity. Carpenter said he felt a little pressure in his at-bats Sunday.
“It’s one of those things, when guys are chasing certain (goals) it can kind of get to them a little,” he said. “I don’t know if it did or not.”
The milestone was important to manager Mike Matheny, who said Carpenter’s failure was the lone damper on the afternoon.
“He was pushing hard, “he said. “But what a season.”
Carpenter also finished first in the NL in runs (126), doubles (55) and multihit games (63).
“Now all those stats go out the window, it’s just about winning games,” he said. “But, I’m pleased and proud with what I’ve done.”
Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson and Tony Cruz drove in runs for St. Louis.