MILWAUKEE — Thanks to CC Sabathia and Ryan Braun, it suddenly didn't matter that the Milwaukee Brewers spent much of the past month squandering a shot at their first playoff appearance since 1982.
Sabathia delivered a dominant four-hit complete game in his third straight start on three days' rest, and Braun hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning to lead the Brewers over the Chicago Cubs 3-1 yesterday.
Milwaukee won the NL wild card less than a half-hour later when the Mets lost to Florida 4-2 — ending 26 years of frustration for the often-overlooked franchise.
"It's our time," Sabathia said.
Sabathia, who came to the Brewers in a trade with Cleveland in July, celebrated by climbing on top of the Brewers' dugout and dousing fans with champagne.
Milwaukee will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. The NL Central champion Cubs will play the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was a last-minute recovery for the Brewers, who took drastic measures after blowing the 5.5-game wild card lead they held going into September: They fired manager Ned Yost with only two weeks left to go. But the details of the Brewers' wild ride to the playoffs don't matter now.
"As good as we feel right now, everything that's happened this month, everything that's happened this week is in the past now," J.J. Hardy said. "We're in the playoffs, and I don't think we could be happier."
Neither could thousands of their fans, who stayed in Miller Park to watch the Mets' game on the giant video board in center field and cheered wildly as the Marlins recorded the final out.
Streamers and confetti fell from the rafters and fireworks went off in the outfield as interim manager Dale Sveum and the Brewers began showering each other with champagne in the middle of the clubhouse.