Cards can clinch division tonight thanks to Reds' help

Magic number is one as Cincinnati lends hand by defeating Pirates on walk off

Cards can clinch division tonight thanks to Reds' help

PHOENIX -- With one Ramon Santiago swing some 1,800 miles away, the Cardinals used the Reds' assistance to set up a potential champagne celebration at Chase Field on Saturday.

Manager Mike Matheny may have promised not to distract himself by watching the Pirates' games this weekend, but his players and staff apparently couldn't resist Saturday afternoon. With the Reds and Pirates meeting in an afternoon game three time zones away, the game played on the television as Cardinals players trickled in before a night game against the D-backs.

With the Cardinals entering Saturday holding a one-game lead over the Pirates in the National League Central, they got a boost from the Reds, who mustered a come-from-behind 10-6 win on Santiago's walk-off grand slam with two out in the 10th inning. It was Santiago's first grand slam in his 11-year career, and it reduced the Cardinals' magic number to one.

That means a win behind Lance Lynn on Saturday will secure a second straight division title for St. Louis. If the Cardinals can't take care of business on Saturday, they'll have Adam Wainwright on the mound in Sunday's regular-season finale.

As Santiago's at-bat unfolded in the 10th inning, players and staff were hanging on every pitch. Aside from a few folks getting work done in the batting cage and training room, everyone was gathered on the sofas or in chairs watching one of several televisions in the clubhouse. Every one of them was tuned into the game. Among those exhaling as the Reds celebrated was Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

Hearing the cheers from the clubhouse, Matheny emerged from his office. He hadn't been watching, rather preparing for the game a few hours later. Now, it's a game that could check off the next box on the Cardinals' season-long to-do list and set up a NL Division Series matchup with the Dodgers.

"You could have been anywhere in the stadium and probably heard that outcome," Matheny said. "The guys felt obligated to walk by the office and give me the updates. I was trying to stay busy, act like I didn't pay any attention. Everybody handles these things how they want to. Our guys are having fun getting caught up in it. That's a good reward for a team that has pushed as hard as we've pushed to be able to have these games mean something. It was fun to listen to them and hear how they reacted."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.