DENVER -- The National League home run race will come down to the final day. Chris Carter hit his 41st homer -- tying the Rockies' Nolan Arenado for the league lead -- to propel the Brewers past Colorado, 4-3, in 10 innings on Saturday at Coors Field.
"I'm going to try to not think about it too much," Carter said. "It's definitely kind of crazy that we're playing each other in the last game."
Carter launched a 3-2 slider over the plate 404 feet to regain the lead for the Brewers. The crucial hit came off Rockies closer Adam Ottavino, who has thrived this season against right-handerd hitters with his slider. Opponents were batting 3-for-38 against the pitch (.079) with 17 strikeouts, and the only hits were single. Right-handers were hitting .127 against him overall with no extra-base hits.
"I'm just stepping at the guy, so I think it's uncomfortable," Ottavino said of his slider. "It's not what people are used to. It's got decent movement, but I think it's just the uncomfortability of it. I threw the guys seven in a row, eight maybe. I don't know. He had to be looking for it. It was down the middle and he put a good swing on it. You tip your cap."
After watching him strike out Domingo Santana and Ryan Braun on sliders to open the inning, Carter was ready for the pitch in a full count. Brewers rookie Jacob Barnes stranded the tying runner in scoring position in the bottom of the 10th for his first career save.
The Rockies scored three runs in the final two frames to force extra innings. Pat Valaika and Carlos Gonzalez singled runs home in the eighth off Corey Knebel in an inning extended by second baseman Scooter Gennett's error, and Tom Murphy added a pinch-hit RBI double in the ninth off Tyler Thornburg, who struggled to throw his curveball in the Colorado air and suffered his second blown save in three days.
Colorado's late surge spoiled Brewers starter Wily Peralta's quality start. Peralta, Milwaukee's Opening Day starter, has pitched his way back into favor since returning from a two-month demotion to the Minor Leagues. Including Saturday, when he retired Charlie Blackmon after a 13-pitch opening at-bat and went on to scatter five hits with no walks in six scoreless innings, Peralta posted a 2.92 ERA in his final 10 starts after rejoining Milwaukee's rotation.
"It's a great way to finish for Wily. I'm proud of him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's confidence for him as much as anything. … He had to put himself back in the mix, and he did that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Brewers rookie flashes glove: Thornburg, so solid for the Brewers all season, suffered his second consecutive blown save when the Rockies scored in the ninth to send the game into extra innings. It might have been worse for Thornburg if not for a sensational play by rookie shortstop Orlando Arcia, who barehanded pinch-hitter Stephen Cardullo's 104-mph line drive after it caromed off third baseman Yadiel Rivera's glove and threw to first for an out that helped Thornburg minimize the damage.
"Look, he got out of it without giving up another run," Counsell said. "That was important." More >
Rockies rookie, too: Both teams scored two runs in an eventful eighth inning, but Rockies left fielder David Dahl contributed to throwing a runner out at the plate for the second straight night to keep Colorado within striking distance. A natural center fielder still finding his way in left, Dahl threw Carter out at home in Friday's series opener and teamed with the shortstop Valaika to nab another runner Saturday when Santana tried to score a second run on Braun's RBI double. The Brewers asked for a replay to determine whether catcher Tony Wolters blocked the plate, but the umpires determined there was no such infraction.
Punctuation: A walk and an error by Rockies shortstop Cristhian Adames in the fifth led to the only Brewers run off Rockies starter Jeff Hoffman on Maldonado's infield single. But Hoffman, acquired in the trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays, finished the game and his season on a high note. Facing Santana, the Rockies' rookie right-hander received a gift strike when Wolters pulled the first pitch into the strike zone, and Santana disagreed with the second strike. But Hoffman finished the at-bat when his 96.2-mph fastball to get the Brewers' right fielder.
"He got a big out in the fifth with the strikeout with the bases loaded," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Nice to see him work out of that jam and put that inning down. He was on a bit of a short leash tonight because he hadn't made a start in a while. We were thinking five innings, 75 pitches, in that neighborhood, and he did a good job for us."
Remember me: Left-handed-hitting Jordan Patterson, a fourth-round pick in 2013 who earned a September callup because of his controlled at-bats, is usually an outfielder but he had a solid start at first base on Saturday. He made a diving play on an Arcia grounder to end the second, and singled in the first and fifth. He finished 3-for-4, all singles, and scored the tying run in the ninth.
"It's good to see Jordan get a start and get some at-bats," Weiss said. "Four or five at-bats in the game and made a nice play over there, he showed up well."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gonzalez's eighth-inning single gave him his 100th RBI of the season. It's just the second time in his career he's reached that mark with injuries limiting his at-bats in several seasons. He drove in 117 runs in 2010, which was one less than Albert Pujols' league-leading total.
Hoffman was given one more start when the Rockies scratched fellow rookie Tyler Anderson due to dead-arm. His last two appearance had come out of the bullpen with the Rockies trying to limit his innings. Hoffman held the Brewers to one run on two hits over five innings with a career-high seven strikeouts.
"I've been trying to punch guys out," Hoffman said. "You're trying to get outs all the time, and tonight I think the work that I've been putting in in the bullpen, and the talks that I've been having with guys like [right-hander Jon] Gray and [right-hander Chad] Bettis and Wolters, and those guys, it got the best out of me tonight. I was able to execute a lot of pitches tonight. I would say anywhere from 90 percent up for execution. That's what's going to get it done." More >
The Brewers held a team meeting after the game to celebrate video coordinator Joe Crawford, who is leaving the club after 13 seasons for a job as a high school athletic director at home in Ohio. Crawford and wife Kara have two daughters, and Crawford said he was eager to spend more time with them after so many years living out of hotels.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
After winning a pair of challenges in Friday's series opener, Brewers manager Craig Counsell stayed hot in the second inning Saturday night, successfully challenging after Adames was ruled safe at first base on a fielder's choice grounder. After review, Adames was out, and the Brewers had an inning-ending double play.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers' 2:10 p.m. CT season finale could also be the final game in a Milwaukee uniform for Braun, who was nearly traded to the Dodgers in August and figures to draw more interest this winter on the heels of a full, healthy and productive season. Tyler Cravy will get the start for Milwaukee on Sunday.
Rockies: Rookie right-hander German Marquez will make his third career start in the Rockies' season finale against the Brewers at 1:10 p.m. MT on Sunday. Marquez was hammered for six runs over 4 1/3 innings in his last start and carries a 6.14 ERA into the game.