CHICAGO -- Apparently it had been too long since the Chicago Cubs won a dramatic game after blowing a late lead. That was more of the norm earlier in the season, when they grinded out victories en route to 18 wins in their last at-bat that included 10 walk-offs.
Make that 11 after Miguel Montero homered to lead off the 10th inning on Wednesday night, giving the Cubs their sixth consecutive win, 3-2, over the Milwaukee Brewers. They improved to 64-48, gaining a game on the wild-card-leading Pittsburgh Pirates and extending their lead over the San Francisco Giants to 4.5 games. Yes, it was another good night at Wrigley Field.
But it didn't look like it would be one inning earlier, when closer Hector Rondon threw two wild pitches in the ninth, allowing the tying run to score after an Addison Russell error opened the door for the Brewers.
"I have to block that pitch," Montero said of the second wild pitch, which allowed the Brewers' second run to cross the plate. "I've blocked pitches tougher than that. It was an easy block. It won't happen again."
Montero took some of that internal anger with him to the plate when he faced righty Michael Blazek in the bottom of the 10th with the score tied, 2-2.
"He threw like a two-seamer, the ball stayed up a little bit, and I put a good swing on it," Montero said.
It was Montero's 11th home run of the season and came at a perfect time, considering how the ninth inning went down. Montero was clearly not pleased with his lack of defensive fundamentals in failing to block Rondon's pitches in the dirt.
"That can't happen," he said. "It's a good wakeup call."
Fortunately, Montero and Rondon got out of the inning without further damage, setting up Montero's heroics a few minutes later. The Cubs are getting every break lately, from replay challenges to great defensive plays that end up in the stands. See Anthony Rizzo, sixth inning, for more on that.
Montero was asked how his thumb is holding up; he's only been back since Friday after missing almost a month.
"I do feel pretty good. No pain, no gain. Like Rocky," he said, laughing.
The Cubs are having a ball as they continue their ascent in the National League. Wednesday's win was in walk-off fashion, adding another chapter to an already magical second half of the season.