MILWAUKEE (AP) Another night, another agonizingly close loss for the Chicago Cubs - and this one pushed them to the brink of playoff elimination.
The Cubs rallied from a three-run deficit to force extra innings, only to lose 4-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Carlos Santana's run-scoring double in the 10th inning Friday night.
Chicago fell 1 1/2 games behind Miami, which beat Pittsburgh, for the NL's third and final wild-card spot. The Marlins hold the tiebreaker over the Cubs. Cincinnati also pulled even with Chicago in the standings.
“We have a group that hasn’t quit all year,” said Ian Happ, who tied the game with a homer leading off the ninth. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow.”
Chicago seemed well on its way to earning a wild-card berth less than three weeks ago when it owned a 78-67 record, but the Cubs have gone 4-11 since, including losing their last four by a total of five runs.
They blew a 6-0 lead in a 7-6 loss at Atlanta on Tuesday. They fell 6-5 at Atlanta the following night, squandering one-run advantages in the ninth and 10th. The Braves completed the sweep by beating the Cubs 5-3 on Thursday.
“At the end of the day, we've got to play better," shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Obviously I feel like over this last little bit, I need to play better, come through in bigger moments and just haven't. Frustrating, especially being in every game against good teams and really grinding our way but just not making it happen.”
Jeimer Candelario homered in the eighth to begin the Cubs' rally. But Chicago couldn't close the deal.
“We know where we’re at - back against the wall,” said Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks, who allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings. “We need some help obviously, but we’ve still just got to focus on what we’re doing, try to come in tomorrow and give everything we’ve got.”
Caleb Boushley (1-0), a Wisconsin native making his major league debut two nights before his 30th birthday, gave up Happ's 417-foot, tying homer in the ninth but struck out Patrick Wisdom with the bases loaded in the top of the 10th.
Boushley guessed that he had about 400 friends and relatives attending the game.
“You try to play out how it's going to go in your head and then when you're in the moment, just take it a pitch at a time, but it's better than a dream, man," said Boushley, who struck out five and allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings.
Santana led off the bottom of the 10th with a double off José Cuas (3-2) that brought home automatic runner Blake Perkins.
In the fifth, the 37-year-old Santana hit his first triple since 2019, driving in two runs against Hendricks.
The Brewers were resting their top pitchers as they prepare for the postseason. That’s why Colin Rea was starting instead of Brandon Woodruff, who is expected to pitch Game 2 of Milwaukee's wild-card series on Wednesday. Rea threw five scoreless innings.
“Our No. 1 priority is getting our guys into the best spots we can get them in going into Tuesday,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I didn't want to waver from that. That's what's most important.”
Candelario homered and Christopher Morel tripled and scored off Clayton Andrews in the eighth. Andrews, who entered the night with a 43.20 ERA in three appearances, worked a scoreless seventh but struggled in his second inning of work. His ERA is now 27.00.
Cubs 2B Nico Hoerner fouled a ball off his left knee in the sixth inning and left the game an inning later. The Cubs said he had a bruise.
Cubs RHP Adbert Alzolay (forearm strain) was activated from the injured list. He hadn't pitched since Sept. 9. The Cubs optioned RHP Keegan Thompson to their spring facility in Arizona.
LHP Jordan Wicks (4-1, 3.00 ERA) pitches for the Cubs and LHP Eric Lauer (4-5, 5.48) starts for the Brewers on Saturday.
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