Victor Caratini stepped up to the plate in the 10th inning with a golden sombrero, but he delivered the decisive blow a few pitches later to send the Brewers home as walk-off winners over the Cubs, 5-2.
Caratini struck out in each of his first four at-bats of the afternoon, and two of those punchouts came with the tying run on base for the Brewers in the fifth and ninth innings.
It only took one swing to turn him into a hero. With two outs, Caratini launched a 2-1 sinker from Cubs reliever Scott Effross for a 411-foot home run and sent the home fans to the exits happy.
The first eight innings were a pitcher’s duel between two lefties. Eric Lauer delivered his best start since May, striking out nine across six strong innings. The southpaw allowed just two hits and two walks.
Chicago’s only run against him came on a solo shot by Nelson Velazquez in the third.
After his swing and miss numbers fell during a rough month of June, Lauer induced a season-high 23 swinging strikes, 21 of which came against his fastball, which had excellent life.
Cubs starter Justin Steele outlasted Lauer by two outs, allowing two hits, and issuing four walks in 6 2⁄3 innings. He also struck out nine and allowed one run.
That lone run scored in the seventh on Pedro Severino’s first hit as a Brewer. Making his season debut after returning from an 80-game suspension, he lined a double to left that scored Keston Hiura to tie the game at one.
That game-tying hit wouldn’t have been possible without an excellent play by Willy Adames in the top half of the inning. With two outs and a runner on third, Adames made a sliding stop deep in the hole and fired to first for the third out.
The left-center-field wall caused some trouble for the Brewers in the ninth.
In the top half of the frame, Seiya Suzuki lined a Josh Hader fastball off the base of the wall. Jonathan Davis did not play the bounce correctly, and the ball rolled along the center-field wall as Suzuki dashed home for an inside-the-park home run, making it a 2-1 Cubs lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, a Keston Hiura line drive that would have easily scored Luis Urias from first bounced over the same part of the wall for a ground-rule double, forcing the runners to hold up at second and third.
The Brewers tied the game nonetheless after Cubs closer David Robertson hit Kolten Wong and walked Christian Yelich.
That brought up Willy Adames, who took two pitches outside off the plate that Stu Scheurwater called for strikes. Robertson struck him out on the next pitch to end the inning.
In the top of the 10th, Brad Boxberger escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. Down in the count 3-1 to Happ, Boxberger fooled him on two straight changeups to end the threat and calmly strolled to the dugout.
Andrew McCutchen led off the bottom of the 10th and flew out to center. After the Cubs intentionally walked Rowdy Tellez to set up a double play, Luis Urias also failed to advance the runners, popping out to shortstop.
That brought up Caratini with a chance to redeem his rough day, and he did not disappoint. The walk-off homer was his seventh long ball of the year.
The win improves the Brewers to 47-35. They’ll look to secure a series win tomorrow with Jason Alexander on the mound. The right-hander returns to the rotation to replace the injured Adrian Houser after a brief stint in the bullpen. Veteran Kyle Hendricks will get the ball for the Cubs.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CDT.