NL Wild Card Update: Cardinals Hold Slim Lead With Two Weeks Remaining

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 4: Ryan Theriot #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals congratulates Colby Rasmus #28 also of the St. Louis Cardinals after Rasmus scored the winning run against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 4, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Cardinals must hold off the Dodgers, Pirates, Brewers and others in the race for the National League's final wild card spot.

The St. Louis Cardinals had Monday off, but so did their closest competitor for the second wild card spot in the National League: the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are just a game back.

With a win over the Miami Marlins, the Atlanta Braves expanded their lead over the Cardinals for the top wild card spot to 7½ games. With just 15 games remaining for the Cardinals that may be too significant a gap to close. However, the Pirates closed their gap for the second wild card spot to just 2½ games with a win over the Cubs on Monday.

While the Brewers and Pirates still present a threat at 2½-games behind, along with the Phillies and Diamondbacks just behind them, the most present threat are the Dodgers The Cardinals earned their one-game advantage with a 12-inning victory over the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Luckily for the Cardinals, they have a favorable schedule to finish with six games against the Astros and three against the Cubs, before finishing their season against the NL's top two teams, the Nationals and Reds. The Dodgers, on the other hand, must face the Nationals and the Reds right away, before finishing the season against the Padres, Rockies and Giants.

For more coverage of the Cardinals, head over to Viva El Birdos. For all your St. Louis sports news, stay updated at SB Nation St. Louis. Head over to Baseball Nation for more on the wild card race and the rest of the MLB.

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