CHICAGO — Shortly after their playoff spot was assured, the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Albert Almora Jr.’s single with two outs in the 10th inning Wednesday night.
The NL Central-leading Cubs clinched their fourth straight post-season appearance when Milwaukee beat St. Louis. The Brewers, who sealed a playoff slot with their win, are a half-game behind Chicago. One of them will win the NL Central, the other will play in the NL wild-card game.
After Pittsburgh tied it in the ninth on a two-out, two-run double by Starling Marte, the Cubs bounced back to win. Ian Happ led off the 10th with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Terrance Gore. Mike Freeman’s sacrifice moved up Gore, and he took third on a groundout. Almora singled to left on an 0-2 pitch from Richard Rodriguez (4-3).
Jason Heyward homered and drove in three runs for the Cubs. Javier Baez singled for his NL-leading 111th RBI as the Cubs won after blowing a five-run lead. Star third baseman Kris Bryant didn’t play because of a bruised left wrist. Jose Osuna and Corey Dickerson homered for Pittsburgh.
Brandon Kintzler (3-3) got the only batter he faced in the top of the 10th to hit into a double play.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, clinched its first playoff spot since 2011 by ensuring at least a spot in the NL wild-card game, helped when a rookie St. Louis pinch-runner fell on his way to the plate.
Jhoulys Chacin pitched five shutout innings and Travis Shaw hit a pair of RBI singles to help the Brewers completed a three-game sweep.
The Cardinals missed a big chance to tie it in the eighth inning. Matt Carpenter walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Adolis Garcia. Jose Martinez then hit a slow roller to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who threw wildly to first. Garcia was waved home but fell halfway to the plate, allowing second baseman Hernan Perez to easily throw him out to end the inning.
Chacin (15-8), who had lost his last three decisions, gave up one run on just one hit over five innings. Xavier Cedeno, Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress combined for four shutout innings as the Brewers held the Cardinals to a season-low two hits. Jeffress earned his 13th save in 18 chances.
Chasen Shreve (3-4) took the loss.