CHICAGO — Miguel Montero and the Chicago Cubs were going to celebrate no matter what happened in Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
One sweet swing by the veteran catcher turned it into one raucous party.
Montero homered in the 10th inning, and the Cubs celebrated the NL Central title with a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Brewers.
“It all worked out pretty good,” a champagne-soaked Montero cracked.
The Cubs became the first major league team to clinch their division when St. Louis lost at San Francisco late Thursday night. They had a chance to wrap it up in front of their delirious fans at Wrigley Field earlier Thursday, but Scooter Gennett’s tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh lifted Milwaukee to a 5-4 win.
A day later, they put a stylish finish on their summer-long dominance of the Central.
Chicago (94-53) pushed across two runs in the ninth and Montero connected for a leadoff drive in the 10th against Blaine Boyer (2-4). The Cubs poured out of the dugout to mob Montero at home plate, and then pulled on postseason hats and shirts as the crowd of 40,823 cheered wildly.
There were hugs all around before the team gathered for a photo in front of the pitcher’s mound with one of the ‘W’ flags that fly all over the Chicago area after Cubs victories. The celebration then transitioned to the team’s refurbished clubhouse, where players sprayed each other with champagne while a DJ played dance music.
“If we had lost, we’d still be having fun, but it wouldn’t be as fun as it is right now,” said second baseman Ben Zobrist, one of several regulars who got the day off. “This team all year long, we don’t give up. We never quit.”
Chris Coghlan had three hits for the Cubs, including an RBI single that sparked the ninth-inning rally. Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-run homer, and Aroldis Chapman (4-1) struck out the side in the 10th for his first win with the Cubs.
Ryan Braun, Orlando Arcia and Scooter Gennett homered for Milwaukee (66-82), which wasted another solid start by Chase Anderson. Andrew Susac added two hits.
The Brewers also lost two outfielders to injuries. Center fielder Keon Broxton slammed into the wall in left center while tracking down Tommy La Stella’s drive in the third inning, breaking his right wrist. He was replaced by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who left in the seventh inning with an abdominal strain.
“It’s very disappointing,” Broxton said. “I wanted to finish out the season, keep working, keep getting comfortable and keep getting more experience. It’s a tough loss right now, but I’ll come back strong.”
Gennett’s tiebreaking two-run drive made it 4-2 in the seventh, but the Cubs responded in the ninth.
Coghlan singled in Willson Contreras and pinch-hitter Addison Russell drove in the tying run with an infield hit, sliding headfirst into the bag to beat the throw from Gennett at second. The Cubs had the bases loaded with one out, but Matt Szczur lined to center and Javier Baez tapped back to reliever Carlos Torres, ending the inning.
Torres’ escape delayed the start of the Cubs’ party, but they quickly made up for lost time.
“Just got to keep pushing,” Russell said. “This is only the beginning.”
Brewers infielder Jonathan Villar was out of the starting lineup. He struck out swinging as a pinch hitter in the ninth.
Villar is batting .129 (4 for 31) with 11 strikeouts in his last nine games.
Cubs: LF Jorge Soler departed after three innings due to tightness on his right side. Soler grounded into a double play in the first in his only at-bat. It was unclear when the injury occurred. … C Contreras was shaken up after he was hit in the groin by a Ryan Braun foul ball in the first inning. Manager Joe Maddon and a trainer came out to check on him, but he stayed in the game.
RHPs Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and Zach Davies of the Brewers face off on Saturday. Arrieta (17-6, 2.91 ERA) is 5-1 with a 3.40 ERA in his last seven starts. Davies (10-7, 3.87 ERA) pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a no-decision at St. Louis on Sunday in his last outing.
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