MILWAUKEE -- The St. Louis Cardinals finally separated themselves from the Milwaukee Brewers in early August after chasing them for much of the season.
They haven't looked back since, turning what had been a nip-and-tuck NL Central race into something of a runaway.
MVP contender Paul Goldschmidt went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI as the Cardinals clinched the division title Tuesday night by beating the Brewers 6-2 behind six strong innings from Miles Mikolas.
"With the guys that we have and the veteran leadership, we knew that as soon as we smelled some blood right there and we took that lead, we knew we could run away with it," Mikolas said.
Andrew Knizner hit a two-run home run to break out of an 0-for-22 slump as St. Louis sealed its first division crown since 2019 and fourth consecutive playoff berth by defeating the team that won last year's NL Central championship.
The Cardinals (90-65) guaranteed themselves at least a tie with second-place Milwaukee (82-72), and now they own the tiebreaker because the victory Tuesday gave St. Louis an insurmountable 10-8 lead in the season series.
St. Louis held a rather low-key celebration on the Brewers' home field after the final out, reacting not much differently than if they'd just won an ordinary game at midseason. The party didn't start until the Cardinals got into the locker room and started popping champagne.
"This is just one step, guys," designated hitter Albert Pujols told his teammates. "Just remember this moment. This is what we want to do deeper in October and hopefully win the championship and bring it to the city of St. Louis."
The Brewers remain 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the final NL wild card. The Phillies won the season series with Milwaukee and would get the playoff bid if the teams end up tied.
St. Louis trailed Milwaukee in the NL Central standings for much of the season and was four games back on the morning of July 31. The Cardinals are 37-17 and the Brewers 25-28 since.
MARLINS 6, METS 4 Carlos Carrasco had another short start, lasting just three innings as the New York Mets fell into a first-place tie in the NL East with a loss to visiting Miami. The Marlins closed out the Mets not long after the Atlanta Braves completed a win over Washington. The Mets and Braves are both 97-58 with seven games left.
BRAVES 8, NATIONALS 2 Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a pair of solo home runs and visiting Atlanta beat Washington, extending its winning streak to four games and moving into a first-place tie in the NL East with the New York Mets.
CUBS 2, PHILLIES 1 Marcus Stroman pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, and Yan Gomes hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning, lifting host Chicago over Philadelphia.
PIRATES 4, REDS 1 Miguel Andújar hit a tiebreaking three-run double in the seventh inning, leading host Pittsburgh past Cincinnati.
YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 2 Aaron Judge walked four times and stayed at 60 home runs, one shy of Roger Maris' American League record, as the New York Yankees clinched the AL East title by beating host Toronto. New York (95-59) secured a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the Division Series.
RAYS 6, GUARDIANS 5 (11) Harold Ramírez's two-run double with two outs in the 11th inning gave visiting Tampa Bay a win over Cleveland, helping the Rays tighten the AL wild-card race and ending the Guardians' seven-game winning streak. The Rays closed within 1 1/2 games of Toronto for the wild-card lead.
RED SOX 13, ORIOLES 9 Visiting Baltimore wasted four home runs, including two more by Anthony Santander, in a loss to Boston, hurting the Orioles' chances of earning an AL wild card. Adley Rutschman and Ramón Urías also went deep, but Baltimore (80-74) lost for the third time in four games.
TWINS 4, WHITE SOX 0 Matt Wallner hit a two-run home run, Bailey Ober had a career-high 10 strikeouts and host Minnesota beat Chicago.
TIGERS 4, ROYALS 3 (10) Harold Castro singled in the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning after tying it with a two-run single in the eighth inning for host Detroit in a win over Kansas City.
ASTROS 10, DIAMONDBACKS 2 Jose Altuve hit two of Houston's five home runs to lead the Astros to a victory over visiting Arizona in a game where Yordan Alvarez left with an ankle injury.