CHICAGO: Coco Crisp singled in Michael Martinez with the winning run in the seventh inning and the Cleveland Indians seized the World Series lead Friday (Saturday in Manila) with a 1-0 victory at Chicago.
By winning the first World Series game since 1945 at 102-year-old Wrigley Field, the Indians took a 2-1 lead over the Cubs in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship showdown, which continues Saturday and Sunday in Chicago.
The Cubs are trying to win their first crown since 1908 and snap America’s longest sports title drought while the Indians seek their first World Series championship since 1948.
Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen escaped a last gasp by the Cubs in the ninth by striking out Javier Baez to end the game with the potential tying run stranded on third base.
That gave the Indians a major league one-sea-son record fifth shutout of this year’s playoffs and their second blanking of the Cubs in the World Series.
In all, four Cleveland pitchers struck out eight batters and scattered five hits.
The loss means that if the Cubs do end more than a century of futility this year, they will have to win the crown in Cleveland, where games six and seven would be played.
The Cubs still have won only two World Series games at Wrigley Field, game six in 1945 and game five in 1935, both over Detroit.
Scoreless into the seventh inning, the game was decided when Roberto Perez singled and was replaced by Indians pinch-runner Martinez, who proceeded to take second on Tyler Naquin’s sacrifice and third on a wild pitch by Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards.
After a pickoff try failed following a video review, Martinez scored on pinch-hitter Crisp’s single to right field for the game’s only run.
The Indians did not manage another hit but had the only scoring they needed.
Chicago’s Jorge Soler tripled to rightfield in the seventh but Baez grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
Anthony Rizzo led off the ninth for the Cubs with a single to left field, bringing the crowd to its feet to stay.
Rizzo advanced to second on a Wilson Contreras ground out and took third after Jason Heyward reached base on a fielding error by Cleveland first baseman Mike Napoli.
But with no more margin for error, Allen struck out Baez to send most of the crowd of 41,703 home disappointed.
Starters baffle sluggers
Chicago starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks surrendered back-to-back singles to Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor in the first inning but picked off Lindor and struck out Napoli to end the threat.
Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, who won his two prior playoff starts, allowed Ben Zobrist a second-inning single and he advanced on a fielder’s choice but was stranded at second base.
The Cubs escaped trouble in the fourth when Lindor and Jose Ramirez singled and Lindor reached third on a fielder’s choice before Hendricks struck out Perez to end the inning.
But the Indians sent Hendricks to the showers in the fifth when Naquin singled and Hendricks walked Carlos Santana and hit Jason Kipnis to load the bases and bring Cubs reliever Justin Grimm to the mound.
Grimm’s fairy-tale hopes came true as he induced Lindor to hit into an inning-ending double play, Cleve-land’s go-ahead run again stranded at third base.
Tomlin departed in the fifth as well after allowing a second hit, but Indians reliever Andrew Miller entered and got Cubs pinch-hitter Miguel Montero to fly out to end the threat, then struck out the side in the sixth for good measure.
Saturday’s starting pitchers will be Cubs right-hander John Lackey, a two-time World Series champion, and Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber, an 18-game winner who is 3-1 in the playoffs but who will be throwing on short rest after winning Tuesday’s opener.