The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Cardinals became the first major league team to clinch a playoff spot this season, winning the NL Central for the third time in five seasons.
A few hours after the Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-0 Saturday, the playoff berth was clinched when San Francisco lost to San Diego 5-1. When the Chicago Cubs lost 6-5 at Cincinnati, the division title was assured.
St. Louis (97-50) can only be matched in the division by the Cubs (81-65), who lost the season series with the Cardinals 11-8. In addition, the Giants' loss meant that the second-place teams in both the NL East and NL West will have 96 wins or fewer.
Because of that, if the Cardinals and the Cubs were to finish in a tie, both would be guaranteed playoff berths. Under baseball's rules, St. Louis would be awarded the division title because it won the season series.
Chris Carpenter left with an injury in the fourth inning, but four relievers helped St. Louis complete a six-hitter.
Light-hitting Mike Matheny got his fifth RBI in five games for the Cardinals, who won for only the fifth time in 11 games.
Carpenter appeared to have been hurt making a throw to first on Danny Bautista's grounder for the first out in the fourth. He left after the next batter, Shea Hillenbrand, singled.
Dan Haren (3-2) allowed two hits in 2 1-3 innings.
Ray King walked the only batter he faced, Cal Eldred allowed one hit in two innings and Al Reyes pitched the ninth for the Cardinals' 12th shutout of the season.
Fossum (4-14) lasted six innings in the loss.
Padres 5, Giants 1