CHICAGO -- It was a triple, then a homer, then a triple again. In the end, the result was the same for Curtis Granderson and the Brewers -- a first-inning run en route to a 5-1 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night.
Granderson, the Aug. 31 acquisition making his third Brewers start and second as their leadoff hitter, tallied three hits including a home run in the ninth inning that sparked a game-breaking three-run rally. But it was the way he opened Wednesday's critical series finale against the Cubs that produced the most postgame commentary in his corner of the clubhouse.
Granderson lifted a fly ball to left field that struck the lip of the so-called "basket" lining the top of Wrigley Field's outfield wall, bouncing twice before coming back into play.
Judging by his slow trot around the bases, Granderson thought he'd hit his 48th career leadoff home run. But he was stopped at third for what was initially called a triple, then sent trotting home by third-base umpire Eric Cooper.
Questionable home runs are subject to crew chief review, so Gary Cederstrom donned a headset and awaited word from Major League Baseball's replay center. The call came quickly: Triple. Granderson was ordered back to third.
"It's amazing how this game works. You'll see something that you've never seen before," Granderson said. "We couldn't even throw the ball up there and try to have it do that."
Granderson admitted he was fortunate the Cubs didn't throw him out. How did he find out the baseball hadn't cleared the wall?
"Listening to our third-base coach," Granderson said. "He said, 'Hey, hey, hey, stop. Hold up here.' I'm always eyes on him. I never know where the ball's going or what's happening. I always either look at the umpire or our third-base coach. At first it looked like a [home run] signal, then our third-base coach said stop, so then I stopped and sure enough, the replay showed that it didn't go out. Luckily I was standing on third and I was able to score a couple pitches after that."
For a moment, it looked like a big call, as Christian Yelich popped out to shortstop and offered Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks a path to escape. But the next batter was Lorenzo Cain, who continued a huge series with a line-drive single that scored Granderson and sent Cain to third base on Albert Almora Jr.s error. Cain was stranded there -- the first off four innings Wednesday in which the Brewers left a runner on third base.
"We try to do what we call pass the baton -- get it to the next guy," Granderson said. "You don't have to be the guy that hits the ball out of the ballpark or come up and have to get that big hit. If you can put some pressure on and put some guys on base, we have a lot of guys that can move runners across, and we were able to show that again tonight."
He's been passing the baton a lot. Granderson is 5-for-11 with two home runs, five walks and eight runs scored in his first eight games with the Brewers. He cleared that same lefty-center field fence in the ninth.
"Those were some big, big moments in the game," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We put him in the leadoff spot, we put him there the other day in Washington, and he's been locked in, man. He's not playing every day but his at-bats have been very high quality and tonight we saw him drive a couple baseballs."
It was the second Wrigley Field rim shot in three weeks. On Aug. 24, Reds right fielder Mason Williams led off the second inning with a similarly quirky extra-base hit.
Initially called a home run, Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber emphatically waved to the dugout that the ball never went over the left-center-field fence before it returned to the field of play. Instead, it had struck one of the support rods holding the basket in place and caromed back into play for a double.