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ST. LOUIS — Lance Lynn was one of the more enthusiastic participants as the St. Louis Cardinals sprayed champagne, showing a wide smile he could not contain.

“It’s a good feeling,” Lynn said after the Cardinals clinched their first NL Central title in four seasons with a 7-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. “It’s a good time to have that feeling.”

Lynn had six strikeouts in a row early, and David Freese and Matt Holliday hit early home runs.

St. Louis (95-65) has won six of seven and is tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NL. The Cardinals are assured of home-field advantage when the NL Division Series starts Thursday.

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“I think relentless is probably the term that might sum it up,” manager Mike Matheny said.


• The latest purge by Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria targeted the personnel department rather than the dugout.

President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest was fired after 12 years with the Marlins. The move came as the team neared the end of its third consecutive last-place season in the NL East. Loria also fired Jim Fleming, who had also been with the Marlins for 12 seasons and was Beinfest’s special assistant. Beinfest and Jennings were dismissed with two years left on their contracts.

• The Cardinals ruled first baseman Allen Craig out of the division playoffs. They’re hoping his injured left foot will allow him to play at some point if the team makes a deep run.

• It looks as if Robin Ventura will manage the Chicago White Sox again next season. It’s still unclear if Paul Konerko will be on Ventura’s lineup card.

General manager Rick Hahn said he expects Ventura to return in 2014, and he plans to give Konerko some time to decide whether he wants to play next year.

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