Milwaukee Brewers’ J.J. Hardy (7), Ray Durham (5), Prince Fielder, left, and Craig Counsell celebrate after the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1. The Brewers won the NL wild card less than a half-hour later when the Mets lost. - ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brewers join party

MILWAUKEE — CC Sabathia and Ryan Braun put the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoffs for the first time since 1982 — with big help from the New York Mets.

Making his third consecutive start on three days' rest, Sabathia pitched a four-hitter and Braun hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning to lead the Brewers over the Chicago Cubs 3-1 Sunday.

The Brewers, who fired manager Ned Yost with only two weeks left to go, won the NL wild card less than a half-hour later when the Mets lost to Florida 4-2. Milwaukee (90-72) and New York (89-73) went into the final day of the regular season tied.

"It's our time," Sabathia said, after climbing on top of the Brewers' dugout and showering fans with champagne.

The Brewers will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. The NL Central champion Cubs will play the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Thousands of fans stayed in Miller Park to watch the Mets' game on the giant video board in center field, standing and cheering 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.

"I tried to visualize what this would be, and nothing could describe it," Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said in a television interview.

It was nice redemption for the Brewers. They blew a big lead in the NL Central last year, and were in danger of a big fold this season after going 3-11 to start September.

"Now we just go out and have fun and see what happens," Sabathia said.

Sabathia (11-2) pitched his NL-leading seventh complete game — those came in just 17 starts after the Brewers got the big lefty in July from Cleveland. The only run he allowed was unearned after an error by first baseman Prince Fielder, and he finished with a 1.65 ERA for the Brewers.

Sabathia struck out seven, walked one and threw 122 pitches. He got Derrek Lee to ground into a double play to end it.

"It was his game," Sveum said. "It was his year. It was his two months. It was his game to give his as long as he could possibly go. He was fine. He's just a special human being."

Sabathia didn't seem to think there was anything special about pitching three times in nine days.

"I don't think about that," Sabathia said. "I just try to do whatever I can for this team, to help this team win."

The Brewers couldn't get much of anything going offensively against Cubs manager Lou Piniella's by-committee approach to pitching the final game of the regular season — until Braun's towering two-run homer off Bob Howry (7-5) broke a 1-all tie.

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