Caratini's late HR lifts Crew to close out 'crazy series'

Win puts Brewers two games back of Reds ahead of showdown with NL Central leaders

July 6th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- Victor Caratini provided the final counterpunch with an eighth-inning solo homer to give the Brewers a 6-5 victory over the Cubs and a split of a wild, closely contested four-game series at American Family Field on Thursday afternoon.

As such, the Brewers head into a crucial three-game National League Central division showdown at home vs. front-running Cincinnati on a winning note to wrap up the first half of the season.

After the Cubs tied it in the top of the eighth on Yan Gomes’ two-run homer, Caratini put the Brewers back in front with his fifth homer, driving a 1-2 pitch from Michael Fulmer with one out a Statcast-projected 404 feet to right.

Joel Payamps preserved the win with a scoreless ninth for his third save.

“Bottom of the eighth, a home run in a tie game is always a huge swing,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It was a crazy series. Both teams came back, scored late [and] often. Good one for the fans, for sure. Great series for the fans.”

Three of the four games were decided by one run, while the series had a one-run differential overall. Milwaukee overcame a 6-0 deficit to take the opener, 8-6. The Cubs salvaged the second game, 7-6, in 11 innings after the Brewers rallied with two runs in the ninth. Then, Chicago won the third game, 4-3, with three runs in the ninth off All-Star closer Devin Williams.

Milwaukee is two games back of the Reds, who rallied for a 5-4 win in 10 innings at Washington on Thursday.

“I’m sure it will be a fun series, a big series, but it’s still a series in July,” Christian Yelich said. “And no matter how it goes, it’s just that. I mean, you always want to play well going into the [All-Star] break and all that stuff, but nothing’s going to be decided here in the next three days.”

Gomes brought the Cubs even against J.C. Mejía in the eighth following a leadoff single by Cody Bellinger, who hit his eighth homer earlier in the game.

Yelich, who has raised his average almost 40 points over the past month, capped a four-run fifth inning off Marcus Stroman with his 11th homer, which put Milwaukee up, 4-1.

“Big credit to Christian,” Counsell said. “That’s a huge swing on a very, very good pitcher who’s having a great season and frankly wasn’t giving us much, and he was really locked in. And [Stroman is] tough to hit homers off of. So that’s just a big-time player hitting great pitches.”

Since June 6, Yelich is hitting .362 (38-for-105) with four homers, 10 doubles, two triples, 20 RBIs, 17 walks and 25 runs in 27 games.

Yelich also hustled for an unearned run in the seventh. He walked to open the inning, stole second, continued to third on the errant throw from Gomes, then scored on Willy Adames’ sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.

Freddy Peralta, who had not won in seven starts since his last victory on May 21, allowed one run on three hits through five innings before giving up Bellinger’s two-run homer with one out in the sixth, which cut the Brewers' lead to 4-3.

Peralta got more efficient each inning until running into trouble in the sixth. He needed 44 pitches to navigate the first two innings and a total of 45 for the next three.

Peralta walked Seiya Suzuki to open the sixth, then struck out Christopher Morel before Bellinger sent a 1-0 pitch 392 feet to right-center for his eighth homer. Peralta struck out 10, walked three and hit one batter in his 104-pitch outing, but he made key pitches with runners aboard.

Milwaukee won three of four at Cincinnati in early June. Since then, the Reds have gone 22-6.

“They’ve played really, really well,” Counsell said. “I saw their record. It’s really good since they left us. They’re swinging the bats very, very well. The lineup has changed. They’ve added some players to the lineup so that they’re a little bit different-looking team than we saw in Cincinnati. But it should be a fun series.”