ST. LOUIS – Cubs manager Dale Sveum can see the writing on the wall.
Sveum spoke like a man about to lose his job following the Cubs’ season-ending 4-0 loss at St. Louis on Sunday.
The Cubs closed the campaign dropping 41 of their final 59 games, including six of their final seven.
They finished last in the NL Central with 66-96 mark.
“It might be tough saying goodbye to the guys and stuff like that,” Sveum said. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. We’ll find out in 12 hours, 15, whatever it is.”
Sveum went 127-197 in his two seasons at the helm. He has one year left on a three-year deal signed before the 2012 season.
Sveum is scheduled to meet with team president Theo Epstein today to discuss his future. After Sunday’s game, Sveum went through the locker room, shaking hands and hugging every player.
“I think he’s a great guy, he’s a great coach,” said pitcher Jeff Samardzija, the loser Sunday. “You’ve just got to look at this thing as a whole. It’s not our call, so it’s whatever they want to do. They’ll do what’s best for the organization.”
Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs with their sixth straight win.
With the top seed, the NL Central champions will host the wild-card winner in Game 1 of an NL division series on Thursday.
Joe Kelly (10-5) pitched 5⅓ innings of three-hit ball in relief of Jake Westbrook as the Cardinals matched a season-high winning streak to finish 97-65, their most since reaching 100 in 2005. St. Louis also won six straight from April 30 through May 5.
The Cardinals have won eight of nine and 17 of 22.
Carpenter, who went 0 for 4, finished the campaign with a league-leading 199 hits. He struck out in the seventh in his last opportunity
“That last one (hit) was tough to find,” he said. “But it is what it is. No big deal.”
Carpenter also finished first in the NL in runs (126), doubles (55) and multi-hit games (63).
“Now all those stats go out the window, it’s just about winning games,” he said. “But, I’m pleased and proud with what I’ve done.”
Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson and Tony Cruz drove in runs for St. Louis.
Sveum said a lack of offense hurt his club the last month.
“We didn’t score a lot,” he said. “When you’re facing the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, Atlanta, it’s going to be tough.”
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook pitched one inning before Kelly came on in relief. Westbrook is not likely to be on the postseason roster and the Cardinals are not expected to pick up his option for next season.
Kelly struck out five in his first relief appearance since rejoining the starting rotation on July 6.
Matheny called it, “one of his best all-around outings.”
Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist contributed to the five-man shutout.
The Cardinals scored twice in the fourth off Chicago starter Samardzija (8-13) to take a 3-0 lead. Matt Adams and Descalso hit back-to-back doubles to push the advantage to 2-0. Robinson followed with a run-scoring single.
Samardzija gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings.
“I had a strong year, I felt good,” Samardzija said. “I pitched every start, threw a lot of innings and had a lot of strikeouts.”
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina took the field to start the game, but was removed before the first pitch. Molina received a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout. Right fielder Carlos Beltran was taken out at the start of the fifth inning and also left to a loud applause.
“Today, we were proud to do something that could honor our guys,” Matheny said. “The fans like to acknowledge our guys.”
NOTES: St. Louis recognized the 50th anniversary of Stan Musial’s last game as a Cardinal with commemorative patches on their uniforms. Musial went 2 for 3 and singled in his final at-bat of a 3-2 win over Cincinnati. ... Matheny indicated that Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) will start the first game of the NL division series. The Cubs closed the season losing 41 of their last 59. ...A crowd of 44,808 gave the Cardinals their 25th sellout of the season.