CHICAGO -- Now it's time for the Cubs to party. Miguel Montero smacked a walk-off leadoff home run in the 10th inning to lift the newly crowned National League Central-champion Cubs to to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory on Friday over the Brewers at Wrigley Field.
The win sparked a celebration that was delayed because the Cubs had gone home after Thursday's loss to the Brewers and didn't know they'd won the division until the Giants beat the Cardinals in San Francisco in a game that ended shortly before midnight. The plan was to party at Wrigley Field following Friday's game, and they did just that.
"This is what we work for," Montero said after spraying champagne in the clubhouse and dancing with his teammates. "A lot of people play for many years in the big leagues and never get that chance to experience something like that. It's a great experience and great feeling. I'm proud of every single guy on the team."
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the Brewers' 10th and Montero launched a 1-1 pitch from Blaine Boyer into the left-field bleachers. The Cubs players spilled onto the field to celebrate, putting on hats and T-shirts that said "Made for October" to commemorate their NL Central win. It was the Cubs' second walk-off home run this year -- Javier Baez also hit one May 8.
"It's the first step, but it's biggest step," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. "If you're playing the best, then you will win and that's what we have to be."
Milwaukee led, 4-2, in the ninth, after Scooter Gennett hit a two-run shot in the seventh, but the Cubs rallied to tie the score on an RBI single by Chris Coghlan and a pinch-hit infield single by Addison Russell. Chicago had the bases loaded with two outs, but Carlos Torres got Baez to hit a comebacker and end the inning.
Torres got the save opportunity because closer Tyler Thornburg had recorded a four-out save Thursday and wasn't available to pitch.
"Carlos just had a bad day," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's had a lot of good days. Today just wasn't his day."
The Cubs' players and coaches took the field before the game started to acknowledge the fans and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,823. The next goal for the club is to secure the first overall seed in the NL and home-field advantage through the NL Championship Series. The magic number to lock up the No. 1 seed over the Nationals is 9.
The game was costly for the Brewers as center fielder Keon Broxton sustained a fractured right wrist after slamming into the brick wall in center. Broxton won't require surgery, but the injury will take six-to-eight weeks to heal, ending his season.
"The wind was howling out today," Counsell said. "The wind just kind of took that ball. It kept taking the ball to wall. He made a nice play, but he crashed into the wall doing it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Lineup card: The Cubs weren't hung over from a celebration party after Thursday's game, but manager Joe Maddon treated Friday's game like a Sunday and gave the regulars the day off. Albert Almora Jr., who started in center field, delivered a two-run homer in the fifth that knotted the score at 2. Almora launched a 3-2 changeup from Chase Anderson a Statcast-projected 398 feet to left-center for his third career homer, and first at Wrigley Field. It ended Anderson's scoreless innings streak at 14 2/3.
"They have so much depth," said Anderson, whose scoreless streak ended at 14 2/3 innings. "When a guy comes in, he just keeps it going when someone goes down. It's still a good lineup, no matter who's out there. They're the Cubs. They're in first place and won the division for a reason."
Long gone: Orlando Arcia and Ryan Braun hit towering solo homers in the second and third innings to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead. According to Statcast™, Arcia's went out to left-center field with a launch angle of 28 degrees, 103 mph exit velocity and traveled a projected 437 feet. Not to be outdone, Braun topped those numbers an inning later off John Lackey, hitting his to straightaway center above the green batter's eye. Braun's blast left the bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph, at a launch angle of 30 degrees and traveled a projected 450 feet.
Start me up: Lackey served up seven hits, including three home runs over seven innings for Chicago. The right-hander struck out eight. He's been pitching with an extra day of rest as the Cubs try to keep the starters fresh for the postseason. The right-hander knows all about the pluses and minuses of clinching early. He was on the 2008 Angels team that clinched on Sept. 10, 2008.
"I guess it's just coincidence I'm on good teams," Lackey said.
Getting defensive: The Brewers had some excellent defensive plays that nixed two potential extra-base hits and erased a runner from scoring position. In the third inning, Broxton chased down a long fly in left-center field for a great running catch before fracturing his right wrist. In the fourth inning, third baseman Hernan Perez then snagged a hard line drive by Baez, which Statcast™ tracked with an exit velocity of 107 mph.
"It's a righty hitting and you're playing in, and Baez has a pretty good swing, so I have to be ready for everything," Perez said. "I was ready for that ball and I caught it."
Perez moved to right field in the seventh and made another big play, throwing out Almora at second after the Cubs rookie rounded the base too far on a single.
"Champagne is the best smell in baseball. It never gets old." -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein
"Once the ball hit my glove, I wasn't going to let it come out." -- Broxton, on his catch
Broxton had to leave the game in the Cubs' third with a fractured right wrist after he crashed into the brick wall catching Tommy La Stella's fly ball. Broxton was escorted off the field by one of the Brewers' athletic trainers, who made sure the outfielder did not move his right arm.
"As soon as I hit, I knew my wrist was broken," Broxton said. "I've had broken bones before, so I know what it feels like." More >
Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler was also pulled from the game after three innings because of soreness in his right side. His status is day to day.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis left the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with an abdominal strain. Nieuwenhuis, who entered the game in the third to replace Broxton, will be evaluated further Monday in Milwaukee and could miss extended time.
In the Cubs' fifth, Lackey was ruled safe at first to beat a double-play relay off his ground ball to second. Chicago would've had runners at first and third with one out, but the Brewers challenged the call. After a video review, the call was overturned for the second out.
Almora Jr. overran second base in the Cubs' seventh after La Stella singled to right, and was called out after a tag by Gennett. Chicago challenged the ruling, and after a review, the call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Right-hander Zach Davies will get the start and try to earn his first win since Aug. 24 against the Rockies. Davies leads the Brewers with 15 quality starts, but he is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA against the Cubs this season. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta will start on Saturday in the third game of this four-game series. Arrieta is 6-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 14 starts at Wrigley Field. He's coming off a win over the Astros in which he gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings.