|Hendricks was in control in beating the Cards on Saturday|
With the victory, the Cubbies lowered their 'Magic Number' to clinch their second consecutive NL Central Division crown to 10 over the Cards, and to 11 over the second place Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers were dumped by the host Marlins down in Miami by a 7-4 score. Combined with a huge 16-0 destruction of the San Diego Padres by the Colorado Rockies, the Brewers now trail the Rockies by 3.5 games, and the Cardinals trail Colorado by 4.5 in the race for the final NL Wildcard berth.
The Cubs fifth straight win was made possible largely thanks to a brilliant outing from starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks. The 27-year old righty allowed just six hits over 7.2 innings, striking out five and walking just one.
Albert Almora singled home the game's first run in the bottom of the 4th, then doubled home another in the home 5th inning that made it a 3-0 game.
After Matt Carpenter's solo homer put the Cards on the board in the top of the 8th, Addison Russell responded with one of his own in the bottom of the frame to provide the final margin of victory.
It was a triumphant return for the 23-year Chicago infielder. Russell had been out of the lineup for a month and a half with an injured left foot.
Kendricks has been pitching really well for the Cubs since returning from his own DL stint of more than a month in late July. Since his return, Kendricks is 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA. He has allowed just 61 hits in 67 innings over 11 starts in that time, with a 57/17 K:BB ratio.
"It's good to feel strong, even at that last pitch," Hendricks said per Carrie Muskat for MLB.com following his outing. "I still felt good. I still had plenty in the tank. That was my takeaway from today."
Muskat also quoted Cubs skipper Joe Maddon on his starting pitcher's performance.
"Everything was working from the side," Maddon said per Muskat. "They were having bad takes. They were taking pitches that were called strikes. His fastball was the best he's had all year. ... His confidence could not be higher."
The Cubs-Cardinals series concludes on Sunday afternoon. Following an off-day on Monday, Chicago will travel to Tampa Bay for a two-game inter-league series with the Rays that will begin a 10-game road trip.
From Tampa, the Cubs will then travel on to a pair of huge series. They visit the Brewers at Miller Park for a long four-game weekend series, then travel on to Saint Louis for a four-game set at Busch Stadium.
After wrapping their series down in Miami today, the Brewers travel up to Pittsburgh for three with the host Pirates before heading home to host the four games with the Cubbies next weekend.
After leaving Chicago on Sunday evening, the Cardinals have an off-day on Monday prior to a three-game set in Cincinnati against the Reds. Then they will stay on the road for three at PNC Park against the host Pirates next weekend.