MILWAUKEE -- David Stearns expects a thriller whenever the Cubs come to town, and that’s exactly what he got.
“Cubs-Brewers over the last five years or so have been pretty intense,” said Stearns, the Brewers president of baseball operations, while the teams took batting practice. “Every Cubs-Brewers game, it feels like you look up in the eighth inning and it’s a one-run game one way or the other.”
When he looked up Monday in the eighth inning it was a tie game -- at least for the moment -- and one of the most entertaining games all year at American Family Field. Christian Yelich and Luis Urías combined for a game-changing defensive gem in the seventh inning and slumping center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered the tie-breaking hit in what developed into Milwaukee’s biggest inning in more than a decade, a 10-run outburst in the eighth for a 14-4 victory that ensured this series would end with the Brewers atop the National League Central at the mathematical midpoint of their season.
The Brewers are on a season-high six-game winning streak that has pushed them a season-high 13 games over .500. They have won 25 of 35 games since Willy Adames arrived on May 22, the best mark in baseball over that span.
“That was probably one of the best wins I’ve ever been a part of,” Adames said. “And this is just the regular season. That felt like the playoffs.”
Adames made his mark again on Monday when he launched a 411-foot, three-run home run and flipped his bat about as far toward the Brewers dugout. It was one of two three-run blasts in the inning for the Brewers -- Keston Hiura hit the other -- in their biggest single-inning scoring outburst since a 10-run first against the Nationals in April 2010.
It marked the sixth time the Brewers scored double-digit runs in an inning, and the first time any team in the Majors broke open a tie game in the eighth inning or later by scoring 10 or more runs since the Tigers scored 13 times in the ninth inning of a 19-6 win at Texas on Aug. 8, 2001.
“That was an incredible inning. It was a floodgate inning,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who certainly remembers the last time the Brewers put up a 10-spot since he punctuated it by hitting a grand slam.
Said Bradley: “I think that's the first time that I've seen going from your eighth-inning guy to a position player [pitching] in the same inning. That was an unbelievable run by our team.”
Sure enough, the Cubs started the eighth inning with setup man and NL Reliever of the Month for May Ryan Tepera on the mound and ended it with infielder Eric Sogard mopping up.
“A good baseball game right up there until the end,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
The Brewers’ hero on Monday?
Take your pick.
There was Avisaíl García delivering a two-out, two-run single in the first inning after the Cubs took a 2-0 lead against Freddy Peralta, then hitting a go-ahead home run in the third on the way to a 4-2 lead by the seventh.
Or Peralta, who’d surrendered two runs on two hits and three walks after facing 11 batters, then locked in to face the minimum through the end of the sixth while the Brewers took the lead.
Or Yelich and Urías, who combined for arguably the Brewers’ defensive play of the year to preserve a 4-4 tie after Patrick Wisdom blasted a long, two-run home run in the seventh. Joc Pederson was at first base with Happ hitting left-handed when he bounced a base hit through the open side of the Brewers’ infield shift. While shortstop Adames and left fielder Yelich gave chase, Pederson and Urías raced for third base. Yelich made a throw on the run, Urías made a moving catch after covering 126 feet of ground from his starting position on the other side of second base, and then managed to tag Pederson for a critical out that allowed [Brad] Boxberger to preserve the tie.
“That was a game-changing play. The inning is a totally different inning [without it],” Counsell said. “It's kind of what we want to see in the game -- that was truly athleticism on the field right there.”
Or how about Devin Williams, who stranded the bases full of Cubs in a harrowing, 34-pitch eighth inning that preserved the tie score? Or any of the 14 batters who stepped to the plate for the Brewers in the eighth, amid a rally that got started with Jace Peterson coming back from 1-2 and Hiura from 0-2 to work walks?
“Then the fun kind of started,” Counsell said.
Bradley was 0-for-3 in the game and 5-for-42 over his last 15 games before hitting a long double off the center field wall to break the tie. Tyrone Taylor, Urías, Adames, Peterson and Hiura all logged RBIs in the inning, and Peterson and Hiura each scored twice.
For the Brewers fans among the split crowd of 30,251, there was plenty to cheer about.
“It was crazy, man,” said Adames of his first taste of Brewers-Cubs. “I was enjoying the whole game. I was telling the guys, ‘This is amazing. This is the big leagues. This is unbelievable.’ I said to Avi, ‘Bro, I’m living the dream. This is crazy.’
“On a regular day, a Monday, to get the crowd going crazy like that? It’s unbelievable. I loved it.”