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10/03/2012 2:37 AM EDT
Cardinals lose but clinch playoff spot anyway
CINCINNATI 3, ST LOUIS 1

By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Once again, the St. Louis Cardinals gazed at
the big-screen TVs, hoping for a little help. Unlike the
previous night, there weren't any plans for a late-night victory
party.



"I'm sending them home," rookie manager Mike Matheny said after
a 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday kept St. Louis'
postseason plans on hold for a few hours. "They need to get some
rest."



Almost everybody stayed put, though, and Matheny said the
players who left were back in the clubhouse well before the
Cardinals learned they'd be headed back to the playoffs to
defend their World Series championship.



Reporters were not allowed into the victory celebration, but
loud cheering could be heard beyond the locked door just outside
the clubhouse.



"I think they realized how special this is," Matheny said. "You
can't take these for granted. We were talking about it being
kind of subdued and it was, but they're still proud. And had
every right to be."



St. Louis clinched baseball's final postseason berth early
Wednesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost 4-3 to San
Francisco. After wrapping up the second NL wild card, the
Cardinals will play at Atlanta on Friday in the new one-game
playoff.



"It's a great feeling. It's a wonderful accomplishment," general
manager John Mozeliak said. "I couldn't be more proud of these
guys and especially Mike Matheny for what he was able to do with
his leadership."



Matheny said Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 ERA) will start against the
Braves.



"What is there not to like about him? I mean, what more can he
do?" Matheny said. "It's kind of lined up that way and we've had
that in line for a while."



The loss left the Dodgers two games behind St. Louis with one to
go.



Cardinals players stayed in the clubhouse after beating the Reds
on Monday night to watch the Dodgers edge the Giants, trudging
home after midnight when Los Angeles snapped a ninth-inning tie
to win.



One night later, St. Louis got in with some help from the
Giants.



For their part, the NL Central champion Reds did their best to
keep the Cardinals down.



"All they need is a chance," said Jay Bruce, who had an RBI
single in the sixth. "We saw that last year. They got in and
they made the best out of it, literally made the best out of it.
They won the World Series."



Mat Latos won his fourth straight decision to finish the regular
season and Scott Rolen homered off Chris Carpenter.



Cincinnati remained tied with Washington for the league's best
record. The Reds need a win Wednesday and a Nationals loss to
earn home-field advantage throughout the postseason.



"We don't know if it's going to be advantageous to get first,
second or third, or the wild card," manager Dusty Baker said.
"Right now, this is all new.



"All of us, same in the American League as in our league, we all
have to start on the road."



The 37-year-old Carpenter (0-2) has a wealth of big-game
experience and went 4-0 in the postseason last fall for the
World Series champions, memorably outdueling Philadelphia ace
Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NL division series.



Injured most of this season, Carpenter made just his third start
of the year gave up a pair of runs in the sixth to snap a 1-all
tie. Bruce and Dioner Navarro had RBIs.



"I've said all along this is like my third spring training start
in a key situation," Carpenter said. "I'm concerned about the
stuff and the sharpness and tonight it was better than the last
time.



"So, hopefully I get another shot."



Despite the loss, the Cardinals are 11-4 in their last 15 games.
Now they can hold back Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94), who had
been set to pitch the regular-season finale against Homer Bailey
(13-10, 3.75), who is coming off a no-hitter at Pittsburgh.



Prized rookie Shelby Miller will get his first career start in
place of Wainwright.



"It's every pitcher's dream to pitch in the big moment,"
Wainwright said.



Latos (14-4) had an abbreviated appearance while freshening up
for the postseason and, like teammate Bronson Arroyo a day
earlier, worked five innings and threw fewer than 75 pitches.
Latos allowed a run on four hits with four strikeouts, all in a
span of four at-bats against the bottom of the St. Louis lineup.



The 24-year-old Latos was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA over his last
seven starts and set career highs in starts (34) and innings
(209 1-3).



"Pitching against a team like them, they're aggressive, they
know what they're doing," Latos said. "A great hitting ballclub.
To give up one run in five innings is doing pretty well."



With what was left of an announced crowd of 39,644 standing and
hooting, Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 38th save in
43 chances. He has allowed just one hit in four scoreless
appearances covering four innings since returning from a
nine-game absence due to shoulder fatigue on Sept. 21.



Carpenter gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings while
losing for the fifth time in 19 career decisions against
Cincinnati. He had seven strikeouts, two more than his total for
the first two starts over 11 innings.



The Cardinals stranded two runners in the second and third
against Latos and had two on with one out in the seventh before
Sean Marshall got pinch-hitter Shane Robinson to fly out and Jon
Jay on a broken-bat groundout.



Rolen, batting .247 but hitting at a .301 clip since the
All-Star break, tied it in the fourth when he jumped on a
first-pitch hanging breaking ball for his eighth homer.



Baker played for keeps in the early going. He brought the
infield in with a runner on third and one out in the first for
Matt Holliday, who hit a sacrifice fly, then intentionally
walked eighth-place hitter Pete Kozma with two outs and a man on
third in the second inning to get to Carpenter, who grounded out
sharply to third.



NOTES: Carpenter has 1,085 strikeouts with St. Louis, six more
than Bob Forsch for third on the franchise list. Next is Dizzy
Dean at 1,095. ... Reds pinch-hitter Todd Frazier grounded out
sharply with two on to end the sixth, dropping him to 6 for 12
with three RBIs in that role. ... Joey Votto doubled and walked
twice and has a major league-leading .515 on-base percentage
with 27 walks since returning to the lineup Sept. 5. ... Jay had
two hits and has 37 multihit games on the year, 21 of them since
Aug. 6. .. Holliday has consecutive multihit games, giving him
55 on the year.

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