in on the NL Central championship and have their sights set on another deep playoff run.It sure would help if Kyle Hendricks keeps pitching like this. They’ll take a few more big home runs from Kris Bryant Gregory Polanco Jersey , too.Hendricks went eight innings in another strong start, Bryant connected and the Cubs moved closer to the division title while dealing another hit to St. Louis’ playoff hopes, beating the Cardinals 8-4 on Friday.“This is what you look for,” Hendricks said. “These are the games you want to play in, games that have meaning like this. That’s why we play the game. Hopefully, we’ve got a lot of these left.”The Cubs came into the final weekend of the regular season with a franchise-record fourth straight trip to the postseason assured and their third division title in a row in sight. They remained one game ahead of Milwaukee, which beat Detroit 6-5 on Friday night.The Cubs can clinch the NL Central on Saturday — and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs — with a win and a Brewers loss.St. Louis matched a season high with its fourth straight loss, after being swept by Milwaukee this week. The Cardinals trail Los Angeles by two games for the second NL wild card after the Dodgers won 3-1 in San Francisco late Friday night.With two games remaining, one more St. Louis loss or Los Angeles win would eliminate the Cardinals from postseason contention.“Clearly the back is completely against the wall,” manager Mike Shildt said.Hendricks (14-11) gave up two runs and seven hits . The right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his past seven outings and has thrown a career-high 199 innings.“He’s pitched with his best stuff since I’ve known him,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s not many strikeouts, not a lot of swing-and-misses. But the velocity on the fastball, he’s back to the weaker contact in general. He looks strong. … I just see a stronger version of Kyle.”Bryant made it 3-0 with a long solo drive to center against Adam Wainwright in the fourth.That gave the 2016 NL MVP just two homers in 27 games and 13 total in a season marked by injuries. Bryant missed the previous two games because of a bruised left wrist after getting hit by a pitch and was on the disabled list two times this year because of left shoulder inflammation.Daniel Murphy had two hits, two runs and an RBI. He singled and scored in a two-run first, doubled and came around in the fifth, and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.Anthony Rizzo had an RBI single and sacrifice fly.Albert Almora drove in two with a single against Dominic Leone to cap a three-run eighth, making it 8-2 Jung-ho Kang Jersey , and the Cubs won their third in a row after losing four of six.“We’ve been here before,” Bryant said, referring to three straight appearances in the NLCS and a World Series championship in 2016 that ended a drought dating to 1908. “We’ve been under pressure situations. I think we know how to handle it.”Wainwright (2-4) is now 11-3 lifetime at Wrigley Field. He lasted five innings, allowing four runs and five hits, in what could be his final start for the Cardinals. Though he didn’t sound like a player ready to walk away, the three-time All-Star has an expiring contract and was on the disabled list three times this season because of hamstring and elbow injuries.“If you had asked me that question about two months ago, I would have already checked out on you,” Wainwright said. “But the way I’m feeling right now, if that is my last start, it would be kind of hard to walk away knowing the way I’m feeling right now.”TRAINER’S ROOMCubs: Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn’t sure if reliever Pedro Strop (strained left hamstring) will pitch this weekend. The right-hander still feels some discomfort on the landing throwing off the mound. Strop has been sidelined since Sept. 13, when he was hurt running to first on a double-play grounder at Washington. … The Cubs activated C Bobby Wilson, who was acquired Aug. 30 from Minnesota on Friday. The Twins placed him on the 10-day disabled list Aug. 24 because of a sprained right ankle.UP NEXTCardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (17-4, 2.94 ERA) looks to win his fifth straight start, after holding San Francisco to two runs and two hits in seven innings on Sunday.Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (4-2, 2.47) tries to shake off back-to-back losses after going 4-0 in his first nine starts for Chicago following a trade from Texas. He homered against Pittsburgh on Monday but got outpitched by Jameson Taillon. The Washington Nationals, who have won two straight division titles and three in the past four years, need a miracle to make the playoffs this season.On Monday night Francisco Cervelli Jersey , the Nationals (76-74) visit the Miami Marlins to start a quick two-game series. The Nationals enter Monday in third place in the NL East, trailing the division-leading Atlanta Braves by 7.5 games.Article continues below ...The Nationals are also six games out of the second and final wild-card spot with just 12 contests left on their schedule. Worse yet, the Nationals trail five teams in the wild-card standings.“It’s a bummer we’re not winning games,” Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper told the media recently. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind.”If Harper is disappointed, imagine how the Marlins feel. Miami (58-91) has the worst record in the National League and the third-lowest win percentage in the majors.Miami hasn’t won consecutive games since Aug. 24-25, and the Marlins have gone 5-13 in that span.Monday’s pitching matchup features a pair of 25-year-old rookie right-handers: Miami’s Trevor Richards against Washington’s Erick Fedde.Richards (3-9, 4.85 ERA) has struck out at least seven batters in six of his 22 games this season. He has a below-average fastball (90.8 as opposed to the league norm of 93.1 mph). But he survives on a nasty changeup.Lately, though, it appears teams have figured him out. In his past seven starts, Richards is 0-4 with a 6.68 ERA.Perhaps a good omen for Richards is the fact that he pitched six scoreless innings the only time he faced the Nationals at Marlins Park this year, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out eight.Fedde (2-3, 5.12 ERA), a Las Vegas native, was Washington’s first-round pick in 2014, coming out of UNLV.His best pitch may be his hard (94 mph) slider, and this will be his first-ever start against the Marlins, so there could be an adjustment required of Miami hitters.Fedde is coming off his best start of the season http://www.piratesfanproshop.com/authentic-josh-bell-jersey , holding the Philadelphia Phillies scoreless for 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday, striking out nine while allowing just two hits.One of the batters Fedde will have to pitch carefully to is Marlins right fielder Peter O’Brien, a 6-4, 235-pounder who has massive power but has yet to get his major league career untracked at age 28.A former University of Miami star, O’Brien was picked up by the hometown Marlins earlier this month and has two homers and five RBIs in his past three starts.“We’re going to get him extended playing time as we finish up,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of O’Brien. “He has a good approach and a feel for his game, which is that he can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”Indeed, O’Brien hit 26 homers in 2013, 39 in 2014, 32 in 2015 and 29 in 2016. He hit just 16 homers last year but has 32 this season in a bounce-back campaign.Still, out of all those homes, only eight have come in the majors, where his career OPS is just .699.“I’m looking to have quality at-bats,” O’Brien told the media on Sunday when asked about his approach. “Consistency is the main thing.”Harper, of course, is Washington’s big bat. He has 97 RBIs, 97 runs scored and 118 walks. He is on track to become just the sixth player since 2014 to record 100 in each of those categories.A free agent after this season ends http://www.piratesfanproshop.com/authentic-josh-bell-jersey , Harper — who turns 26 next month — needs to drive in two more runs to tie his career high.“I’m not worried about my numbers because I am who I am,” Harper said. “That sounds bad, but I am. On any given night, I’m able to do things that are special.”Harper hit just .214 with an .833 OPS in the first half of this season. But since then, he has hit .305 with a .985 OPS.The Nationals, who have won seven of their past nine games, have ridden the hot bats of Harper, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, among others.Rendon has reached base in 25 consecutive games, hitting .330 during that span. He hit his 20th homer on Sunday, marking the third straight season he has reached that milestone.Soto, 19, has reached base in 21 consecutive games. That ties Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for the second-longest streak by a teenager since 1920. Mel Ott, who had a 22-game streak in 1928, owns the record.