CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' division-clinching party will wait until Friday, even though they became National League Central champions Thursday.
The Milwaukee Brewers played spoiler -- for a couple hours anyway -- and prevented the Cubs from wrapping up the title before a sellout crowd at Wrigley Field on Thursday night with a 5-4 victory.
Chicago clinched its first Central title since 2008 when St. Louis lost in San Francisco 6-2 later Thursday night. The Cubs did not stick around the clubhouse and instead will celebrate after playing the second contest of their four-game series Friday afternoon.
"It would have been wonderful to do so for the fans (Thursday), but that's part of the uncontrollable nature of our game," manager Joe Maddon said. "We had a really good way about us today. We just made a couple of mistakes that we normally don't make. That's going to happen.
Brewers pinch hitter Scooter Gennett broke a tie in the seventh inning as he doubled home Domingo Santana and Martin Maldonado with one out for go-ahead runs and a 5-3 lead.
"We played a good ballgame. Obviously with were they're at there was great energy in the park tonight," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We answered that energy and we used that energy for us."
Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson (8-14) threw six innings of three-run ball to earn the win, the first of his career in 12 appearances (10 starts) against Chicago.
Reliever Tyler Thornburg faced the top of the Cubs' order and got the final four outs for his 10th save.
"That was pretty awesome," Thornburg said. "I've never got an opportunity to throw in the playoffs and that's about as close as I can imagine."
Reliever Justin Grimm (1-1) took the loss for the Cubs (93-53) after giving up two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
The Brewers (66-81) won their second straight, disappointing a Wrigley Field crowd announced at 41,362.
Cubs starter Mike Montgomery was pulled for pinch hitter Tommy La Stella in the sixth after an impressive -- if inconclusive -- night. He allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits while walking one and striking out seven.
"(He) was really good, outstanding," Maddon said. "Good stuff, outstanding curve ball -- a really premium curve ball -- velocity was good and a sink on the fastball gives us ground balls. This guys going to be really good."
Nelson, meanwhile, allowed eight hits, walked two and struck out seven.
Jorge Soler gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead with none out in the second inning, launching Nelson's 1-0 pitch deep into the left field bleachers for his 12th home run of the season.
He also drove in Addison Russell, who reached base when a high leadoff popup dropped between Brewers third baseman Hernan Perez and shortstop Orlando Arcia for an infield hit.
Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton homered off Montgomery to lead off the fourth, cutting the Cubs lead in half with his ninth of the season.
Milwaukee put runners at second and third with two out later in the inning and Arcia drove in Perez and Santana for a 3-2 lead with his double down the left field line.
Heyward doubled in the fourth and scored on Montgomery's first Cubs hit -- a two-out single up the middle that tied the score at 3-3.
NOTES: While Milwaukee is near the bottom of the NL Central, pitching has been a bright spot lately as Brewers hurlers had a major league-best 2.73 ERA over their previous 23 games. ... RHP Zach Davies (10 wins) and RHP Junior Geurra (nine) have the third most combined wins by rookie pitchers in franchise history in a season. ... The Brewers send RHP Chase Anderson (8-11, 4.53 ERA) against Cubs RHP John Lackey (9-8, 3.35 ERA) in Friday's second game. ... Chicago RHP Kyle Hendricks leads the NL with a 2.03 ERA while LHP Jon Lester was second at 2.40 ERA. ... The Cubs' Class A Myrtle Beach affiliate won its second straight Carolina League title on Wednesday. The previous day, Class A Eugene captured the Northwest League crown.