CHICAGO (AP) The Latest on the Major League Baseball's final day heading into the postseason (all times Eastern):
Lorenzo Cain hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning, Christian Yelich collected three more hits and the Milwaukee Brewers won the NL Central title by downing the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Monday in a high-stakes tiebreaker game.
Milwaukee trailed Chicago by as many as five games in September, but it 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.
It's the first NL Central title for Milwaukee since its previous postseason appearance in 2011. Cain and company will enjoy home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs, beginning with Game 1 of their division series Thursday.
The Brewers' eighth straight win also dumps Chicago into Tuesday night's NL wild-card game. The Cubs will host the loser of Monday's second tiebreaker between Colorado and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West title.
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.
Christian Yelich strengthened his case for NL MVP when he slapped an RBI single back up the middle in the NL Central tiebreaker game, giving the Milwaukee Brewers a 1-0 lead over the Chicago Cubs in the third inning.
Yelich also reached on an infield single in the first. Bidding for the Triple Crown, he now has 110 RBIs, just one behind Cubs star Javier Baez for the league lead.
The winner at Wrigley Field gets the division title and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The loser plays again Tuesday night, hosting the runner-up in the NL West in the wild-card game.
Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers were on top of the NL Central for much of the season’s first half. Then Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs moved into the lead of what just might be baseball’s best division.
Then Yelich powered the Brewers to one more charge.
So of course, it’s going to extra innings.
Milwaukee visits Chicago on Monday for the first tiebreaker in major league history in which the loser doesn’t go home. The winner advances to the Division Series, the loser to Tuesday’s wild-card game against the loser of the NL West tiebreaker later Monday between Colorado and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Just like the last couple weeks, we’ve approached almost every one of these games like a do-or-die game,” Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said. “Tomorrow won’t be any different. Obviously, it will be a challenging place for us to go and win but we’re playing good baseball and if we go in there and do the things we’ve done over the last couple of weeks we’ll forget about where we are.”
The winner at Wrigley Field gets home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs, starting with a Division Series on Thursday against the wild-card winner.
“We put ourself in a position to come down to one game to win the division and get a couple days off,” Rizzo said after Sunday’s 10-5 victory over St. Louis. “If we win it, we’ll be ecstatic. If we lose, we’ve played more games in a row before, so we’ll be ready to play.”
Chicago had a five-game lead on Sept. 2, but Milwaukee won seven straight and nine of 10 overall to finish with a 95-67 record. Yelich led the way, rising to the top of the NL MVP conversation and making a bid for the Triple Crown by hitting .383 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs in his last 30 games.
“We need to be ready to go,” Yelich said. “They are a great team. We’ve played each other tough all year. It’s only fitting that we have to do one more.”
The playoff-tested Cubs are going for their third straight NL Central title. They went 11-8 against the Brewers this season but dropped two of three in each of their two September series.
Planning for a possible tiebreaker, Chicago has Jose Quintana lined up on regular rest. The left-hander is 6-2 with a 1.60 ERA in 10 starts against Milwaukee.
“He’s pitched really well against us all year,” Yelich said. “I’m sure they know that. We know that. It’s going to come down to execution like it has all year. It should be a fun one.”
Milwaukee did not announce a starter, but the Brewers’ deep bullpen might be the biggest concern for the Cubs.
“The big thing is to get up early and hold onto a lead, that’s the big thing,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “To stay out of the beefier part of their bullpen also, they’re very good.”
Associated Press writers Joe Totoraitis and Rich Rovito in Milwaukee contributed to this report.