The St. Louis Cardinals proved just a few years ago that they can win a World Series without having won their own division.
Not that the Cardinals are against winning the NL Central, a goal they will try to accomplish on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cardinals are tied with the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League at 94-65. St. Louis has wrapped up a playoff berth and has a magic number of one to win its first division crown since 2009.
St. Louis, of course, won the World Series in 2011 as a wild card club.
The Cards' 4-1 win over Washington on Wednesday, coupled with losses by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, moved them closer to locking up first place. They are three games up on the Pirates with three games to play.
Pittsburgh is visiting Cincinnati for three games this weekend, while the Braves began a four-game set with Philadelphia on Thursday with a win.
Shelby Miller won his 15th game of the season, finishing off the sweep of the Nationals with a six-plus innings of four-hit ball.
"We know what's at stake and what we need to do to get the job done, how many games we need to win," Miller said. "Hopefully, we can just win them all."
The Cards have won seven of their last nine and got some help from the Cubs when they beat the Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday.
Darnell McDonald paced the offense with three hits, including a three-run homer.
"He's done a great job for us since he's been here. He really filled a need and a spot for us and has done a great job in the outfield," said Chicago manager Dale Sveum, whose club went 31-50 at home to set a single-season record for most home losses.
Lance Lynn draws the start tonight for the Cardinals looking to conclude his regular season with back-to-back wins.
Lynn was winless in eight starts -- 0-5 with a 5.44 earned run average -- before a victory over Milwaukee on Saturday. He allowed one run on four hits and four walks over 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven.
"Once he found that groove, and you could tell found that four-seamer, it was a completely different game," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Lynn, a 26-year-old righty, is just 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts this year versus the Cubs, who sent All-Star lefty Travis Wood to the hill.
Wood is 9-11 with a 2.98 ERA in 31 starts this season, posting a 1.35 ERA over his last three outings.
Wood picked up a victory over Cincinnati on Sept. 9 before consecutive no- decisions versus Pittsburgh and Atlanta. He gave up one run on five hits and four walks over seven frames versus the Braves on Saturday.
Wood has gone 1-2 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts versus the Cardinals this season.
The Cardinals are 9-7 versus the Cubs in 2013.