Christian Yelich's bid to become the first NL Triple Crown victor since 1937 appeared to fall agonizingly short after Sunday's regular-season finale.
The Cubs took over sole possession of first place on August 1 and led the Brewers by as many as five games in early September, but Milwaukee closed the regular season on a tear. The Brewers will host the wild card victor starting Thursday in the best-of-five Division Series.
But the Milwaukee Brewers came up big against the Detroit Tigers, setting up game number 163 in the friendly confines. The former Nationals pitcher who was acquired at the waiver trade deadline allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out three.
But wait - the Brewers' outfielder gets one more unexpected shot.
So of course, it's going to extra innings. Yelich, who hit.352 with a major league-leading 1.307 OPS last month, knocked base hits in each of his first three at-bats.
The victor will claim the division title and the top seed in the NL playoffs, while the loser will host the Colorado Rockies or Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Wild Card Game Tuesday.
"Just like the last couple weeks, we've approached nearly every one of these games like a do-or-die game", Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said.
Milwaukee won its eighth in a row and earned home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
The Cubs wasted a solid performance by Cole Hamels in a 2-1 loss to Miles Mikolas and the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, making for a muddled NL playoff picture. "If we win it, we'll be ecstatic". That game will be played at 3:09 CT on Monday in Los Angeles.
Chicago had a five-game lead on September 2, but Milwaukee won seven straight and nine of 10 overall to finish with a 95-67 record. The team from Chicago beat their rival from Milwaukee in 11 of 19 regular season contests, but seven-straight victories by the latter got them to even in the final weekend of the season. "It's only fitting that we have to do one more".
They can't feel good about it, but a win means the Cubs third straight division title.
Planning for a possible tiebreaker, Chicago has Jose Quintana lined up on regular rest. Hamels has a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts for Chicago. He'd been bubbling towards the surface of national conversation all year, but this last month Yelich has been hotter than the sun, which has been contagious for his entire team. I know a lot of teams would. "We just think about (Sunday) and try to win (Sunday) and hope that's enough going into this coming week".
Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn't immediately announce a starter Sunday.