Cardinals vs. Braves, 2012 N.L. Wild Card Game: St. Louis can end Braves' season again

Dilip Vishwanat - Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals get one game to continue their World Series defense.

The St. Louis Cardinals ended the Atlanta Braves' postseason hopes with a miraculous comeback in 2011. Now, they can do the same in 2012 with one win, even though they finished a distant fifth place to the Braves' fourth in the NL standings.

The Braves host the Cardinals Friday in the first ever National League Wild Card Game, a one-game playoff between the top two non-division winners. The winner goes on to face to top-seeded Washington Nationals while the loser goes home.

St. Louis (88-74) finished six games behind Atlanta (94-68) for the top Wild Card spot and held off the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second spot up until Tuesday to earn one last chance to defend their 2011 World Series title.

Last season, the Cardinals blew past the Braves in a memorable August and September that saw St. Louis overcome a 10.5-game deficit to claim the only Wild Card spot and eventually go on to win the franchise's 11th world title. MLB added a second Wild Card team in each league for 2012, giving the Cards extra life after finishing well behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central and Braves for the top Wild Card spot.

The Cardinals will likely send Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86) to the mound to face Atlanta's unlikely ace, Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57). Friday's game is scheduled to start at 5:07 p.m. CT and will be televised by TBS.

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