CHICAGO (AP) — Lorenzo Cain hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning, Christian Yelich collected three more hits and the Milwaukee Brewers took their first NL Central title since 2011 by downing the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Monday in a tiebreaker game.
Milwaukee won its eighth in a row and earned home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Brewers will host the wild card winner starting Thursday in the best-of-five Division Series.
Chicago stays at Wrigley Field for Tuesday night’s wild-card game. The Cubs will play the loser of Monday’s second tiebreaker between Colorado and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West title.
Yelich singled home Milwaukee’s first run and won the NL batting title with a .326 average. He fell one home run and one RBI short of what would’ve been the NL’s first Triple Crown since Joe Medwick in 1937.
Milwaukee trailed Chicago by as many as five games in September, but manager Craig Counsell’s club pushed the season to an extra day with a furious finish and then used its deep lineup and bullpen to outlast the playoff-tested Cubs.
Orlando Arcia, batting in the eighth slot, had a career-high four hits, and Josh Hader closed out another dominant relief performance for the Brew Crew.
Jose Quintana pitched six-hit ball into the sixth inning and Anthony Rizzo homered, but Chicago’s bullpen faltered in the eighth. Daniel Murphy and Javier Baez had the only other hits for the Cubs.
The game was tied at 1 before Milwaukee opened the eighth with three straight hits. Arcia singled on a 0-2 pitch from Justin Wilson (4-5), Domingo Santana had a pinch-hit double and Cain greeted Steve Cishek with a single back up the middle.
After Yelich struck out swinging — a rare occurrence during an extraordinary stretch for the NL MVP favorite — Ryan Braun got the Brewers an insurance run with a run-scoring single to center.
It was more than enough for Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen. Corey Knebel (4-3) extended his scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings with a perfect seventh, and Hader worked two innings for his 12th save.
Rizzo had one last chance for Chicago, but he flied to right with Baez on second for the final out. When it was over, Hader wrapped his arms around catcher Erik Kratz for a big hug as the rest of the Brewers poured out of the dugout.
A sizable portion of Milwaukee fans in the crowd of 38,450 chanted “Let’s go Brewers! Let’s go Brewers!” — a rarity at Wrigley Field over the years.