CHICAGO -- Let's play Game 163.The Cubs rallied to beat the Cardinals, 10-5, on Sunday, finishing tied with the Brewers for first in the National League Central and forcing a tiebreaker today at Wrigley Field (1 p.m. ET/noon CT on ESPN).Milwaukee defeated Detroit, 11-0, at Miller Park to also end
CHICAGO -- Let's play Game 163.
The Cubs rallied to beat the Cardinals, 10-5, on Sunday, finishing tied with the Brewers for first in the National League Central and forcing a tiebreaker today at Wrigley Field (1 p.m. ET/noon CT on ESPN).
Milwaukee defeated Detroit, 11-0, at Miller Park to also end its originally scheduled season at 95-67. The Cubs will host Game 163 based on beating the Brewers during their season series, 11-8 (including a 6-3 record at Wrigley Field). Jose Quintana will start for Chicago.
"To win 95 and do it the way we did is still not enough as of today, but give the Brewers credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "They're a good ballclub. It's interesting that baseball is such a perfect game in some ways that it takes 162 to not decide anything. It's like it's the first day of the season. It's happening in the other division also. It's pretty crazy stuff."
The Cubs-Brewers winner will have the No. 1 seed in the NL and host Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Thursday against the winner of the NL Wild Card Game. The loser will host Tuesday's NL Wild Card Game against the loser of the NL West tiebreaker between the Dodgers and Rockies (4 ET/3 CT Monday on ESPN).
• FAQ for today's NL Central tiebreaker
"It would be very nice [to get Tuesday off], but if we don't, we'll be ready," Chicago's Anthony Rizzo said. "There's no one really tired right now. You've got the adrenaline running this whole weekend, it'll be running again tomorrow, it'll be running Tuesday if we have to play, and if not, Thursday. Whatever we have to do, whatever it takes, we'll be ready."
The Cubs were scoreboard watching on Sunday and saw the Brewers take an early lead against the Tigers. The Cardinals opened a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Cubs took a 4-2 lead in the third on Benjamin Zobrist's RBI triple, Rizzo's RBI double and Jason Heyward's RBI single for their 48th come-from-behind win this season.
"[Zobrist's triple] was the play that got it going," Maddon said.
Kristopher Bryant added a two-run double and Willson Contreras smacked a two-run homer in the fifth to put the Cubs up, 8-2.
NL MVP candidate Javier Baez had two hits, including his 40th double, to become the first player in Cubs history with 40 doubles, 30 homers and 20 stolen bases in a single season.
The Cubs were hoping Mike Montgomery, who has subbed this year for injured Yu Darvish, could go at least five innings and maybe revive some of the magic from 2016, when he picked up the save in Game 7 of the World Series. But Montgomery was knocked out after 2 1/3 innings and Maddon then went to the second tier of relievers, beginning with Carl Webster, who was called up to the big leagues on Sept. 19. Webster was followed by Alec Mills, who was a starter this season at Triple-A Iowa. Mills threw two scoreless innings.
"Webster and Mills were our secret to success today," Maddon said.
"Those guys stepped up big time for us, and that's what it takes," Montgomery said. "A game like this with the division on the line, everyone has to step up and do their part. Those guys in the bullpen really did. It was really cool to see. It was a great overall team win and gives us momentum going into tomorrow."
How Maddon manages the bullpen will be critical on Monday as well. He said he has to take not just the tiebreaker game, but the possibility of a do-or-die NL Wild Card Game into consideration.
"Of course, you want to win [Monday], of course, you'll try to win [Monday]," Maddon said. "If it gets more bleak, you'll have to consider the next day."
Having expanded rosters and fresh arms in the bullpen may come into play.
The Cubs had sole possession of first place in the NL Central from Aug. 1 until Saturday night, when they lost to the Cardinals and the Brewers beat the Tigers to move into a tie.
This is the first time the Cubs will play Game 163 since 1998, when they beat the Giants, 5-3, to secure a Wild Card berth. They lost in the NLDS that year to the Braves.
Knowing who they're facing should help the Cubs prepare for Game 163.
"It's good to know what you'll be facing," Kyle Schwarber said. "You've seen these guys multiple times. It's up to us to be able to execute. I think the common theme in playoff games is execution. That makes the little things matter. I'm sure that's what it's going to be tomorrow -- little things will matter, and it'll be a fun game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
100 and counting: The Cubs rallied with two outs in the third. Trailing, 2-0, Daniel Murphy doubled and scored on Zobrist's triple into the right-field corner. Jack Flaherty's first pitch to Baez skipped away and Zobrist scored on the wild pitch to tie the game at 2. Baez walked to set up Rizzo, who lined a double into the gap in right-center for his 100th RBI of the season. Flaherty intentionally walked Bryant and was lifted for Chasen Shreve, who served up an RBI single to Heyward and a 4-2 lead.
"It's a credit to all the guys, they get on base a lot," Rizzo said.
Rizzo is the first left-handed batter in Cubs history to reach 100 RBIs in four different seasons, and he's done it in four straight. Hall of Famer Billy Williams reached 100 RBIs three times with the Cubs (1965, 1970 and '72).
• Rizzo gets 100th RBI in game-changing rally
Welcome back: Contreras was 1-for-12 on the homestand before connecting on his 10th home run, a two-run shot in the fifth off Austin Gomber. It was Contreras' first homer since Aug. 1. The ball appeared to hit the yellow rope on top of the basket rimming the outfield wall, then bounced off the small video board and back onto the field.
This is the first time the Cubs entered the final day of the regular season tied for first in their division or league since 1908. That team was deadlocked with the New York Giants at 98-55. The Cubs won a showdown at the Polo Grounds, 4-2, to secure the NL pennant. They reached the World Series, beating the Tigers.
HE SAID IT
"We feel real confident. We know their team real well. It's going to be a battle. It's been a battle all year with us. Having the home-field advantage will be big for us." -- Schwarber, on Game 163
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.