Major League Baseball (MLB)

Chicago Cubs edge Cleveland Indians in game five to avoid elimination in World Series

The Cubs, on the brink of losing an eighth consecutive World Series, avoided elimination on Sunday by defeating Cleveland 3-2

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 October, 2016, 12:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 4:10pm

The Chicago Cubs, on the brink of losing an eighth consecutive World Series, avoided elimination on Sunday by defeating Cleveland 3-2, sustaining hopes for their first crown since 1908.

Chicago’s Kris Bryant homered and Cuban relief ace Aroldis Chapman pitched the final 2 2/3 innings as the Cubs pulled within 3-2 in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship series, which continues with game six on Tuesday in Cleveland, where a seventh game would be played on Wednesday if needed.

The Cubs, in their first World Series since 1945, are trying to snap America’s longest sports title drought while the Indians own baseball’s second-longest futility streak, last taking the trophy in 1948.

“It didn’t feel like an elimination game,” Bryant said. “We had a big inning and Chapman coming in for eight outs, that was big.”

Of 46 teams that trailed 3-1 in the World Series, only six have rallied to win the title, the most recent being the 1985 Kansas City Royals. And the Cubs have never won any play-off series after trailing 3-1.

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Chicago’s Jake Arrieta, an 18-game winner, will take the mound against Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin in a matchup of right-handed pitchers on Tuesday.

“He’s a bull out there,” Bryant said of Arrieta, the reigning Cy Young Award winner as top pitcher. “Hopefully he can win out there and then anything can happen in a game seven.”

The Cubs, who led the major leagues with 103 wins this season, captured their first World Series victory since 1945 at 102-year-old Wrigley Field, the white flag with blue W raised as the crowd chanted “Let’s Go Cubs.”

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“We got the W. Now two more Ws,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said. “High anxiety. Every pitch gets bigger and bigger. It gets more intense as the game goes on.”

Sparked by Bryant’s solo homer, Chicago scored three runs in the fourth inning to seize a 3-1 advantage.

The Indians pulled within the final margin in the sixth inning when Rajai Davis singled, stole second base and took third on an errant throw by Cubs catcher David Ross on the steal. Davis then scored on Francisco Lindor’s single.

In the seventh, Cleveland’s Mike Napoli singled and took second on a passed ball by substitute catcher Wilson Contreras. After an out, the Cubs brought in Cuba’s Chapman to shut down the fightback. He struck out Jose Ramirez and induced a Roberto Perez ground out to end the threat.

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Indians closing pitcher Cody Allen entered in the seventh as well and also escaped a jam after Dexter Fowler was hit by a pitch to reach base and stole second.

In the eighth, Davis singled then stole second and third bases but Chapman struck out Lindor to keep the Cubs ahead.

In the ninth inning, Chapman retired the Indians in order to complete the triumph.

Ramirez smashed a two-out solo homer off Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, a two-time World Series champion, to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It was the Dominican third baseman’s first homer outside Cleveland since May.

The Cubs, who had gone 25 innings without scoring, equalised in the fourth inning when Bryant, who was batting 1-for-15 in the Series, smacked a solo homer over the rightfield wall off Indians starter Trevor Bauer, the game two loser pitching on short rest who lasted only four innings.

Rizzo then doubled to right, took third base on Ben Zobrist’s single and scored Chicago’s go-ahead run on Addison Russell’s infield single.

Javier Baez, who had been 1-for-14 in the Series with runners on base, tapped another infield single down the third-base line to load the bases and Ross, 0-for-7 with runners on base in the play-offs, followed with a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist from third for a 3-1 Cubs edge.