Cards Clinch NL Wild Card With Help From Phillies

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- As the euphoria of winning the National League wild card wore off in the wee hours, the St. Louis Cardinals collectively took a deep breath.

Savoring a celebration that seemed more spontaneous than scripted, they'll try to take the September groove no one thought they had in them into October.

St. Louis trailed Atlanta by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25, then won 23 of the last 31 games to finish its improbable charge. The Cardinals also owe the Philadelphia Phillies a tip of the cap for ending the season with a sweep of the Braves, who lost 18 of their last 27.

But come Saturday, the 102-win Phillies will be hosting a confident, 90-win club.

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