x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cubs NL Central champions again

Ted Lilly tossed six innings and added an RBI single to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the St Louis Cardinals and their second straight National League Central Division title.

The Chicago Cubs closer Kerry Wood, left, celebrates with his team after they clinched the NL Central title.
The Chicago Cubs closer Kerry Wood, left, celebrates with his team after they clinched the NL Central title.

CHICAGO// Ted Lilly tossed six innings and added an RBI single to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the St Louis Cardinals and their second straight National League Central Division title. Alfonso Soriano delivered a two-run single and Mark DeRosa also batted in a run for the Cubs (93-60), who have qualified for the post-season in consecutive years for the first time since appearing in three straight World Series from 1906-08.

Lilly (16-9) kept St Louis off the scoreboard for five innings before tiring in the sixth. The lefthander yielded four runs and six hits, walking two and striking out five en route to his third straight win. Carlos Marmol tossed a perfect eighth before Kerry Wood worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his 32nd save. "To do it in this ballpark, in front of these fans, two years, back to back, this never gets old," the Cubs second baseman DeRosa said.

The Cubs closer Wood paid tribute to his team as well. "We're looking at the big picture," he said. "It's nice to get in. We expected to be in this spot. "This is the best team I've been a part of, the deepest team I've been a part of, the best offence," he added. While the race for the NL Central is over, the battle for top spot in the NL East remains close with the Philadelphia Phillies regaining the lead from the New York Mets after a 3-2 victory over the Florida Marlins.

Dobbs plated the go-ahead run with a single in the sixth inning and three relievers combined for four scoreless innings as the Phillies (87-68), pulled half a game in front of the Mets (86-68) for first place. The Atlanta Braves tagged Pedro Martinez for three first-inning runs and Jorge Campillo pitched six solid innings as they snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Mets. The LA Dodgers downed the San Francisco Giants 10-7 to maintain their three-and-a-half-game lead in the NL West over the Arizona Diamondbacks who got a game-winning two-run homer from Stephen Drew at the top of the ninth in a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Elsewhere, Micah Owings looped a pinch-hit single in the sixth inning as the Cincinnati Reds held on for a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. * Agencies