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Cubs beat Cardinals 7-0 to drop magic number to 1

The Cubs have one more full-go series left in them — this weekend at home against the rival Cardinals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS — With their 7-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs’ reduced their magic number for clinching the National League Central Division title to one game.

This means the Cubs likely will clinch at Wrigley Field because they open a four-game home series Thursday night. This will be the Cubs’ first Central title since they won consecutive division crowns in 2007 and 2008. The Cardinals, who open a four-game series Thursday in San Francisco, had won the previous three division titles.

Left-hander Jon Lester held the Cardinals to three hits in eight scoreless innings as the Cubs took two of three from their rivals at Busch Stadium. Two home runs by Anthony Rizzo and a two-run shot from David Ross gave Lester all the support he needed.

The Cubs increased their lead over the Cardinals in the Central to 17 games with 17 to play.

“It’s nice to do what we’ve done this year, that’s for sure,” Rizzo said Tuesday night, “and what we’ve done top to bottom the last few years. But this year to win the division, it’s not easy to do.

“Maybe it’s looked a little easy with the way we’ve played, but it’s not easy. You can’t take that for granted.”

And now the biggest celebration of the year for a team that celebrates every time it wins a game is on tap for Wrigley.

“I can imagine that for those people following us really closely, watching all the games, coming to a lot of games, that this is a sweet time for them to really enjoy the moment,” said first-year Cub Ben Zobrist, who mentioned that teammates talked in recent days of clinching on the Cardinals. “I’ve heard some guys mention that.

“I think for the guys that have been here for a while and have endured some of the trouncings they’ve taken here in the past from the Cardinals, that might be sweet for some of those guys. But for the rest of us, it would be probably even sweeter to do it at home.”