CHICAGO - David Ross homered and teamed with Jon Lester for another scoreless performance, and the Chicago Cubs hurt St. Louis' wild-card chances with 3-1 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday night.
Ben Zobrist had three hits and scored two runs as Chicago finished with a major league-best 57-24 home record. It's the most home wins for the Cubs since they went 58-19 at the West Side Grounds in 1910.
The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, wasting a chance to improve their playoff positioning. They remain a half-game back of San Francisco for the second NL wild card after the Giants lost 4-3 at San Diego earlier in the day.
Ross, Lester's regular catcher, plans to retire after the season and was greeted with a long standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina walked halfway to the mound, forcing the unassuming Ross to take in the moment, and he took off his batting helmet to acknowledge the cheering crowd of 40,859.
Ross then struck out against Carlos Martinez, but he got another chance in the fifth and drove the right-hander's second pitch over the wall in left for 1 -0 lead. Ross clapped his hands as he rounded first on his 10th homer and the cheers continued after he reached the dugout, prompting a curtain call.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled Ross with two out in the top of the seventh, giving the crowd another opportunity to cheer the journeyman catcher.
Lester (19-4), one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young Award, struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one while improving to 10-0 with 1.34 ERA in his last 13 starts.
The Cardinals pulled within one on Jhonny Peralta's two-out RBI single in the eighth, but Brandon Moss flied to center with runners on the corners. Willson Contreras responded with an RBI single in the bottom half and Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 16th save with the NL Central champions and No. 36 on the year.
Martinez (15-9) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, dropping to 3-2 in five September starts. He struck out six and walked four.
RESTING AND MOURNING
St. Louis shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who is dealing with some arm fatigue, got the day off. Diaz also was a childhood friend of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident over the weekend.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he would have scratched Diaz had he been in the lineup. Diaz declined an interview request through a team spokeswoman.
"He's pretty stoic. You see how he goes about his business," Matheny said. "That's kind of how he's handling this right now. He was a close, close friend, so he's trying to figure out how to mourn for his friend right now and take all the information in. None of that is easy."
Second base umpire CB Bucknor was struck by Zobrist's liner up the middle in the second, resulting in a single. Bucknor was checked on by a Cubs trainer and stayed in the game.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia (10-12, 4.59 ERA) faces Cincinnati RHP Tim Adleman (2-4, 4.06 ERA) on Monday night in the opener of a seven-game homestand. After four against the last-place Reds, the Cardinals finish the regular season with a three-game series against Pittsburgh.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (15-8, 2.06 ERA) pitches for Chicago in the opener of a four-game series at Pittsburgh. RHP Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA) gets the ball for the Pirates on Monday night.