Crew's win sets up division tiebreaker at Wrigley
Aguilar homers and drives in 3; Milwaukee wins 7th straight game
MILWAUKEE -- The first 162 regular-season games were so much fun, the Brewers and Cubs will play one more to decide the National League Central.
Both teams took care of business in their respective regularly scheduled finales on Sunday, with Milwaukee scoring a wire-to-wire 11-0 win over the Tigers at Miller Park for a seventh straight victory and Chicago topping the Cardinals, 10-5, at Wrigley Field to set up a Game 163.
• FAQ for today's NL Central tiebreaker
With identical 95-67 records, the Brewers and Cubs will meet in a one-game tiebreaker at 12:05 p.m. CT today in Chicago.
The winner can rest up before hosting Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Thursday. The loser will host the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
• MLB postseason schedule
"They know they've got problems tomorrow," said Jesus Aguilar, who homered and drove in three runs before firing up the Miller Park crowd during an on-field interview on FS Wisconsin after the game.
• Aguilar ramps up anticipation for tiebreaker game
Ryan Braun, who added two hits and two RBIs, took a wider view of the impending drama.
"It's pretty crazy," said Braun. "I feel fortunate we're in this position. We have two chances to win one game."
And they will not be alone, since the Dodgers and Rockies also won blowouts on Sunday to set up a similar logjam atop the NL West. So the Brewers and Cubs will be followed by Colorado and Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium at 3:09 p.m. Both games will air on ESPN.
"We had a pretty good vibe in here before the game started that we were going to go out and take care of business," Christian Yelich said after letting his teammates do the hitting this time. "We're headed to Chicago here in a little bit.
"We're going in there with the mindset that it's must-win. We're still alive if we don't win, but we're going to do all we can to get that game. It would be huge to get the division and not play in the winner-take-all game, because anything can happen in one game."
• Game 163 gives Yelich last shot at Triple Crown
In front of a third straight sellout crowd, Aguilar hit home run No. 35 and drove in a run in three different innings, Braun delivered a two-run double in a game-breaking six-run seventh inning and three Brewers pitchers silenced a Tigers lineup that provided all kinds of trouble in the first two games of the series.
Those pitchers were led by Giovany Gonzalez, the veteran lefty acquired from the Nationals on Aug. 31 amid a long slump. He rebounded to the tune of 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five September starts with his new team, capped by five scoreless innings Sunday.
Junior Guerra and Jordan Lyles followed with two innings apiece, and it was Guerra's single leading off the seventh that sparked a six-run rally. The Tigers intentionally walked Yelich to load the bases ahead of Braun's double to the wall in left-center field. One batter latter, Aguilar followed with an infield bouncer that produced two more runs thanks to an error, and Orlando Arcia punctuated the game-breaking frame with a two-run single.
"The offense was alive. The defense was incredible. And hat's off to Junior and Jordan. They did a great job carrying that momentum," Gonzalez said. "For me, it's nice to be a part of something like this and a team that gave me a chance to redeem myself."
The Brewers won all five of Gonzalez's starts to finish a stretch in which they won 10 of their final 11 series in the regular season.
"We had to win today to have a chance. It will be the same thing tomorrow," said Travis Shaw, who capped Milwaukee's scoring with his 32nd home run in the eighth inning. "We have to go in with the same mindset. If we win [Monday], we don't have to play on Tuesday. I think that's everybody's mindset. Nobody wants to play on Tuesday."
"We did our job," manager Craig Counsell said. "We got ourselves an extra game."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Braun was back on the productive side of things Sunday after striking out four times on Saturday. He walked in the first inning amid a two-run rally that gave Gonzalez some breathing room, singled and scored in the sixth as the Brewers extended their lead to 4-0, and then he doubled home two runs, stole a base and eventually scored in the seventh as Milwaukee blew the game open.
Braun, one of the best hitters in Brewers history against left-handed pitching, has a chance to play a critical role against Jose Quintana on Monday, even though he's 6-for-29 lifetime against the Cubs southpaw. Two of those hits were home runs in an Aug. 14 win at Wrigley Field.
"I feel better than I have at any point of the season," Braun said. "This is energizing for me. This is exciting. I feel good about where I'm at. It's a good time to be feeling good."