For the first time, the defending World Series champion Cardinals will be in position Monday night to nail down the National League wild-card playoff berth they have been chasing for several weeks.

With Carlos Beltran hitting two-run homers from both sides of the plate and knocking in five runs overall and with rookie Pete Kozma getting three hits and at least two runs batted in for the second game in a row (he had three today), the Cardinals walloped the Washington Nationals, 10-4, at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals' magic number for gaining a playoff spot was reduced to two, pending the Los Angeles Dodgers' result in their game with Colorado.

Lance Lynn gained his staff-high 18th win although his 5 1/3 inning outing wasn't his best. Lynn allowed four runs in that span although he fanned nine in boosting his mark to 18-7. The All-Star righthander won his fourth straight start and posted his fifth win in a row overall.