ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matt Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs when they beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 Sunday for their sixth straight win.
With the top seed, the NL Central 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.
Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson and Tony Cruz drove in runs for St. Louis.
The Cubs finish last in the Central at 66-96.
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook pitched one inning before Kelly came on in relief. Westbrook is not likely to be on the postseason roster and the Cardinals are not expected to pick up his option for next season.
Kelly struck out five in his first relief appearance since joining the starting rotation on July 6.
Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist contributed to the five-man shutout.
Second baseman Matt Carpenter went 0 for 4 and finished with a league-leading in 199 hits.
The Cardinals scored twice in the fourth off Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija (8-13) to take a 3-0 lead. Matt Adams and Descalso hit back-to-back doubles to push the advantage to 2-0. Robinson followed with a run-scoring single.
Samardzija gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings.
Jay, who drove in a run with a single in the third, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games with a single in the first.
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina took the field to start the game, but was removed before the first pitch. Molina received a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout. Right fielder Carlos Beltran was taken out at the start of the fifth inning and also left to a loud applause.
NOTES: St. Louis recognized the 50th anniversary of Stan Musial's last game as a Cardinal with commemorative patches on their uniforms. Musial went 2 for 3 and singled in his final at-bat of a 3-2 win over Cincinnati. ... St. Louis manager Mike Matheny indicated that Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) will start the first game of the NL division series. The Cubs closed the season losing 41 of their last 59. ...A crowd of 44,808 gave the Cardinals their 25th sellout of the season.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP's 86-day struggle to stop the flow of oil gushing from its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico will be the focus of a trial scheduled to resume Monday in federal court.
BP insists it was prepared to respond to the deadly disaster, but plaintiffs' attorneys will argue that the company could have capped the well much sooner if it hadn't ignored decades of warnings about the risks of a deep-water blowout.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has set aside 16 days for the second phase of the trial, which also will feature experts' dueling testimony about the amount of oil that spilled into the Gulf.
The trial's first phase ended in April after the judge heard eight weeks of testimony about the causes of the blowout.
ATLANTA (AP) — Homeless veterans and other chronically homeless people are being helped by the hundreds in Atlanta, a city that for years has struggled to keep people off the streets.
The city is well on its way to meeting its goal of finding homes for 800 people this year, with already more than 700 in homes.
Jake Maguire, communications director for the 100,000 Homes Campaign, says Atlanta is a true turnaround story that has made a great deal of progress in a short time frame. The campaign is a national group working to find permanent homes for 100,000 of the nation's most vulnerable homeless.
Veterans are getting help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, too. Nationally, the VA is increasingly viewing homelessness as a permanent problem — not a temporary one.
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — The budget battle in Washington has kept many of U.S. senators and representatives away from a Midwestern conference of conservatives in suburban St. Louis.
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday for pep-rally-style speeches and panel discussions at the Conservative Political Action Conference in St. Charles.
U.S. Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma were late cancelations, as were numerous U.S. House members.
A convention spokeswoman says they stayed in Washington, where lawmakers face a midnight Monday deadline to pass a funding plan to avert a partial government shutdown.
Utah Senator Mike Lee attended the convention and received a standing ovation for aiding Texas Senator Ted Cruz this week in his filibuster against funding for the federal Affordable Care Act.
The event is sponsored by the American Conservative Union.