MILWAUKEE — Patrick Wisdom set a Chicago Cubs record for homers by a rookie on a day that exemplified his feast-or-famine approach.
Wisdom struck out four times for a second straight day but delivered a towering three-run shot that highlighted the Chicago Cubs' eighth-inning comeback in a 6-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
"It's tough when you have nights like I did last night, and then you see your name in the lineup again hitting fourth," Wisdom said. "You're like, 'Well, they still believe in me. I've got to believe in myself.' It's kind of like a gut check to say, 'Hey, let's go.' Keep believing. Keep going."
The Brewers' ninth-inning rally fell short and the magic number for wrapping up their first NL Central title since 2018 remained at three. Milwaukee clinched its fourth consecutive playoff berth Saturday.
Wisdom has struck out on over 40% of his plate appearances, but he also has 27 homers. That breaks the franchise rookie record formerly held by Kris Bryant, who homered 26 times in 2015.
"This game is tough," Wisdom said. "It can really punch you in the gut sometimes. But you've got to keep getting back up. That's what it's about - resiliency and the next pitch, focusing on that."
Milwaukee trailed 6-2 before nearly coming all the way back against Rowan Wick in the bottom of the ninth.
Christian Yelich singled home two runs with a two-out single. Omar Narváez singled and Luis Urías walked to load the bases. The Cubs brought in Michael Rucker, who retired Jace Peterson on a fly to center to earn his first career save.
"Jace hit a ball pretty good actually, just got under it a little bit," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
The Brewers had beaten the Cubs 11 consecutive times, one off the franchise record for consecutive victories over one opponent. The Brewers won 12 straight from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008.
Milwaukee seemed on its way to matching that record until the Cubs rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the eighth.
Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras started the rally with a 14-pitch walk against Brad Boxberger (5-4). Matt Duffy and Frank Schwindel followed that up by hitting consecutive first-pitch RBI doubles.
"It was a great at bat by Contreras," Counsell said. "I don't know that it took anything out of (Boxberger), but he made probably two pitches over the middle of the plate after that, and they hit them pretty hard."
Jandel Gustave took over for Boxberger and promptly walked David Bote and allowed Wisdom's 430-foot drive to center.
"The one thing that I love about Patrick is he just keeps having his at bats," Cubs manager David Ross said. "It hasn't been the best series for him offensively, a lot of swing-and-miss there, and he continues to be that threat. That's what he brings. He plays good defense. He's versatile. And he's got real thump in the bat."
The Cubs delivered their big rally after getting just two hits in the first seven innings.
Brewers starter Eric Lauer struck out six and allowed one run, one hit and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He owns a 1.83 ERA over his last 13 appearances.
Lauer held the Cubs without a hit until Trayce Thompson sent an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall with one out in the fifth to break a scoreless tie.
The homer was Thompson's first hit of any kind in the major leagues since June 14, 2018, when he was playing for the Chicago White Sox. He returned to the majors for the first time in over three years on Tuesday when the Cubs called him up from Triple-A Iowa.
Adam Morgan (1-0) earned the win with one inning of shutout relief.
From the infirmary
Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain was out of the lineup with what Counsell described as “general body soreness” after diving against the wall to rob Contreras of an extra-base hit Saturday. … Milwaukee shortstop Willy Adames, who went on the injured list Sept. 5 with a left quadriceps strain, is likely to return Monday. … Counsell said left-hander Brett Anderson is healthy again. Anderson has been on the injured list since Sept. 2 with a shoulder bruise.
The Brewers open a four-game home series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. Scheduled starters are right-hander Freddy Peralta (9-4, 2.69 ERA) for the Brewers and right-hander Jake Woodford (2-3, 4.30) for the Cardinals.
Smashing success: Brewers keep setting franchise records — and they're not done yet
Victories in a season
Record: 96 (2018, 2011)
No team in franchise history has ever won 100 games in a season but the Brewers are on pace to hit that mark this season which would also give the 2021 team the franchise record for best single-season winning percentage, topping the mark of .593 set in 2011.
Road winning percentage
Record: .588 (1982)
Again, this record is almost certain to fall. The Brewers go into their five-game interleague road trip with a .657 road winning percentage in 2021 and would need to go 1-11 in their remaining road contests to finish behind the '82 squad.
Earned Runs Allowed / Earned Run Average
Record: 532/3.36 (1971)
Technically, the 2020 Brewers hold the record for fewest earned runs allowed in a season with 239, but that came during a 60-game season so we're not counting it here. Same with the second-place 1981 team, which held opponents to 428 earned runs in a strike-shortened 109-game season.
The fewest earned runs allowed in a full regular season was 532, set in 1971. Heading into their off-day Monday, the 2021 Brewers were tied with the 1971 team for the best staff ERA in franchise history.
Through 144 games, the Brewers have allowed an average of 3.33 runs per game. If they keep that pace, they'll finish with with 540 but with a couple more performances like this past weekend and the 2021 squad could move into the top spot.
That, in turn, would help the current team's chances of catching the 1971 Brewers record for best full-season ERA.
The Brewers are also in position to break the franchise record for fewest hits allowed in a season (1,259 in 2018) and most strikeouts (1,497 in 2019). Milwaukee's pitchers have allowed 1,017 hits while striking out 1,439 batters so far this season.
Individual pitching records
The Brewers' pitching staff is also on the verge of shattering several individual records this season.
After holding Cleveland scoreless over eight no-hit innings Saturday, Corbin Burnes' ERA dropped to 2.25 for the season, good for second in the National League behind the Dodgers' Max Scherzer and within striking distance of Mike Caldwell's 2.36 ERA in 1978 that stands as the best ever by a Brewers starter.
Brandon Woodruff is also in the mix for both the NL lead and the Brewers' all-time record. He brings a 2.48 ERA into his scheduled start Tuesday at Detroit.