(AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have put themselves in prime position to secure the NL's second wild card by taking advantage of a stretch of games against baseball's two worst teams.
From here on out, the competition will be much stiffer.
The Cardinals conclude the season with back-to-back home series against baseball's two best clubs, beginning Friday night when they face a Washington Nationals team still trying to lock down the NL East.
St. Louis' magic number to clinch a playoff spot and defend its World Series championship is four over the Los Angeles Dodgers with six games to play.
The Cardinals (84-72) have created some separation in the race by winning five of six over hapless Houston and two of three from lowly Chicago since Sept. 18. Prior to this run, St. Louis had lost eight of 11, which included dropping three of four in Washington from Aug. 30-Sept. 2.
Wins could again be hard to come by for the Cardinals, with their remaining games against Washington and NL Centr...