Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks got to watch a team celebrate in their ballpark for the second straight season.
This time it was St. Louis instead of the hated Dodgers, but it didn't matter.
After finishing with the worst record in baseball, the Diamondbacks weren't all that concerned with what was going on in the opposite clubhouse.
Arizona closed out one of the worst seasons in franchise history on Sunday, losing 1-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals to end a year filled with injuries and disappointments.
"We had higher expectations coming out of the spring," Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler said. "Whether you look at the injuries or the pure lack of execution on the field, this is not how we wanted to finish. We definitely don't feel like we are the worse team in baseball, even though the record says we were this year."
The Cardinals were assured of a playoff spot entering the day. What that spot would be depended on whether they could beat the Diamondbacks or Cincinnati knocked off Pittsburgh.
The Reds took care of business for the Cardinals by beating the Pirates 4-1, a victory that was announced about 10 minutes before St. Louis' game against Arizona.
The Cardinals celebrated in the dugout, then it did it again after the final out against the Diamondbacks, wildly spraying each other with champagne and beer after an oh-so-sweet finish to their second straight NL Central title.
Next up: The Dodgers in the NL division series Friday in Los Angeles.
"Fortunately, we weathered the storm and the guys just put their nose down," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I'm real proud of the guys."
Once Sunday's game started, both teams seemed to go through the motions, the only run coming on Kolten Wong's groundout in the sixth inning off Josh Collmenter (11-9).
The Cardinals scratched scheduled starter Adam Wainwright just before the start, using five relievers instead. Justin Masterson (3-3) pitched two scoreless innings and Carlos Martinez got the final two outs for his first save.
The Diamondbacks went out with a whimper, managing two hits to finish 64-98, second-worst to the 111-loss season in 2004.
"It is bittersweet," Collmenter said. "It's the last time this team will be together. We will have to say goodbye to some guys and there will be a handful of guys back."
The Cardinals went to the World Series last season, yet have seemed to make it hard on themselves this season, taking the NL Central race down to the final game after limping to the finish.
St. Louis had a chance to wrap up the division title Saturday night, but couldn't put away the last-in-baseball Diamondbacks, losing 5-2 after Mark Trumbo hit a pair of homers.
Cincinnati eliminated the drama for St. Louis with a win that sent the Pirates to the wild-card game and St. Louis into the division series. The result was announced at Chase Field about 10 minutes before first pitch and the Cardinals celebrated with a round of high-fives and hugs in the dugout.
"I think I threw a pitch without looking because I was watching the scoreboard," Wainwright said. "It was a great feeling."
Matheny said Wainwright would start the season finale regardless of what happened with the Pirates, but he was replaced by Nick Greenwood just before the game.
With nothing to play for on either side, the Cardinals and Diamondbacks played through a brisk, free-swinging game that was more like spring training than a season finale.
The Cardinals had three hits and scored their only run on Wong's sixth-inning groundout after Pete Kozma led off with a double.
That was enough to beat the listless Diamondbacks and, besides, the Cardinals were already division champs.
Collmenter was Arizona's best starter down the stretch of the season and turned in another solid outing the finale, even if he didn't get much support.
The right-hander allowed three hits in eight innings, dropping his ERA to 1.26 over his final seven starts.
"I just wanted to finish the season strong," Collmenter said.
The Cardinals notched their 23rd shutout of the season, third-most in team history. The 1968 team had 30 and the 1944 team 26. ... Arizona's Ender Inciarte went 0 for 4 to end a 15-game hitting streak. ... Masterson Earned his first win as a reliever since July 5, 2009 against Seattle.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.