Cubs beat Cardinals 5-1 to clinch NL Central title

courtesy Getty Images

ST. LOUIS  — Addison Russell hit a three-run homer and John Lackey pitched six strong innings as the Chicago Cubs clinched their second consecutive National League Central title with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

The Cubs reached the postseason for the third straight year for the first time since 1908. They are also the first defending World Series champion to win their division the next season since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies and the first defending champion to reach the playoffs the next season since the Cardinals won the wild card in 2012.

The Cubs became the second visiting team to celebrate a title at Busch Stadium III. The 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers won the NLDS at St. Louis.

Lackey (12-11) retired the final 10 batters he faced. The former Cardinal struck out three and gave up two hits and two walks.

Six Cubs relievers combined for three scoreless innings of relief.