Cards nail down 100th victory

Cards nail down 100th victory

ST. LOUIS -- What began as a sour sendoff for Busch Stadium turned sweet with back-to-back home runs from Reggie Sanders and Chris Duncan in the fifth inning.

The homers lifted the Cardinals to a 7-5 victory and sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, securing their first back-to-back 100-win season since 1944.

Because the Astros defeated the Cubs to clinch the National League Wild Card, the Cardinals will open the NL Division Series on Tuesday at noon CT at Busch Stadium against the San Diego Padres. Game 2 will be on Thursday at Busch. The time is yet to be determined.

Matt Morris, who has been with the Cardinals longer than any other current player, got the start in the final regular-season game at Busch Stadium, but turned in a rocky outing.

Morris gave up five runs on eight hits in three innings. Morris' start turned sour in the third when he gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs to Felipe Lopez, Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns.

The Cardinals worked their way back into the game in the fourth, loading the bases against Brandon Claussen. Yadier Molina and Abraham Nunez ripped back-to-back RBI singles and So Taguchi drove in the Cardinals' fourth run of the game on a sacrifice fly.

In the fifth, the Cardinals pulled even on Sanders' blast to straightaway center field -- the sixth consecutive game he has driven in a run. St. Louis pulled even on rookie Chris Duncan's first Major League home run.

The bullpen patched together six scoreless innings. The Cardinals used eight different relievers, tying a Major League record for most pitchers used in a game (nine). The seven scoreless innings also secured the pitching staff's first National League ERA title.

Rookie Tyler Johnson walked two batters in the eighth inning, but struck out Dunn to end the inning.

Closer Jason Isringhausen finished the game off by striking out Edwin Encarnacion for his 39th save.

Stephen A. Norris is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.