Jack Flaherty pitched seven strong innings as the host St. Louis Cardinals captured the National League Central title with a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

The Cardinals (91-61) will play the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series on Thursday. The second-place Milwaukee Brewers will face the Washington Nationals in the wild-card game Tuesday.

The third-place Chicago Cubs (84-78) ended a disappointing season in the NL Central.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt hoped to save Flaherty for the first game of the playoffs, but elected to start him with the division title in the balance heading into Game 162.

Flaherty (11-8) needed just 69 pitches to record his 21 outs. He struck out six batters and allowed just two hits and one walk.

After finishing the second half of the season with an 0.91 ERA, Flaherty is expected to start Game 2 in the NLDS.

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