The Cardinals playing perhaps their best ball of the season closed the regular season with a rush today. Their sixth straight victory a fast-paced 4-0 decision over the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium tied their season-high winning streak and more significantly gave them the best record in the National League at 97-65 and home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.

The Cardinals don’t know whom they will be playing when the division round begins here Thursday but it won’t be the Los Angeles Dodgers as long had been envisioned.

Tuesday’s winner of the wild-card game between National League Central Division rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will be the Cardinals’ first playoff opponent in a best-of-five series while Western Division champion Los Angeles will open at Eastern Division champion Atlanta.

The win his 10th went to Joe Kelly who yielded his scheduled start to Jake Westbrook who pitched one inning on his 36th birthday and in probably his last regular-season game with the Cardinals. Kelly pitched 5 1/3 innings of relief about as long as his normal start and held the Cubs to three hits.

Kelly whose third-inning double was his first extra-base hit of the season scored the go-ahead run in that inning on a single by Jon Jay who earlier had earlier had extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

Doubles by Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso and a single by Shane Robinson accounted for two more runs in the fourth. And Tony Cruz who replaced Yadier Molina behind the plate before the first pitch was even thrown doubled home the final Cardinals run in the eighth. All four runs scored with two outs.

Veteran lefthander Randy Choate threw one pitch for a double play to escape a seventh-inning jam. Rookie Carlos Martinez pitched a perfect eighth and lefthander Kevin Siegrist allowed a two-hit single in the ninth before getting the final out on a ground ball.

The team then took a collective curtain call as a paid crowd of 44808 stood and cheered.

To have the best record in the league (and tied with Boston for the best in the majors) was something the Cardinals wanted even though two regulars Matt Holliday and David Freese rested today and two others Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran came out of the game early Molina even before it started.