CHICAGO (Reuters) - Coco Crisp snapped a scoreless tie in the seventh inning with a pinch-hit single that gave the Cleveland Indians a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in a pivotal Game Three of the World Series on Friday.
Cleveland’s bullpen made the scant lead stand up as the Indians seized a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven Fall Classic and spoiled an opening night party for the Cubs, who hosted their first World Series game in 71 years.
The game ended in frustrating fashion for Chicago, with runners left on second and third in the ninth inning when Javier Baez struck out on a high fastball from closer Cody Allen.
It was the second shutout loss of the series for the Cubs.
“To live that moment of getting the last out and feeling the emotions of getting a win ... that’s a special feeling,” said Allen.
Andrew Miller, who relieved starter Josh Tomlin in the fifth, was credited with the win as four Cleveland pitchers combined on a five-hitter.
Chicago reliever Carl Edwards Jr, one of six pitchers used by the Cubs, took the loss.
The Indians’ victory jettisoned any chance the Cubs had of clinching the World Series title at home, with only the next two games to be played in Chicago.
With the wind blowing out toward Wrigley Field’s reachable, ivy-covered outfield walls, offensive fireworks were anticipated but it was the pitchers that held sway along with bench player Crisp, who ruined the fun for a packed house of nearly 42,000.
“We needed something, anything, just to put a run across,” said Cleveland skipper Terry Francona. “And our (pitching) staff made it hold up, which was a remarkable effort.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he was surprised by the low-scoring contest.
“Just speaks to the quality of the pitching,” said Maddon. “The bullpens did magnificent jobs.
“It’s rare that you see those conditions and it’s a 1-0 baseball game.”
Roars rolled through the old stadium in the opening innings but as the game wore on a worried stillness set in.
Tomlin, spotting his pitches with pinpoint accuracy, kept the Cubs off balance and off the bases, while Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks escaped jam after jam.
Three times in the first five innings Cleveland put a baserunner on third but could not advance him the last 90 feet.
In the fifth, the Cubs escaped a bases-loaded, one-out threat when Justin Grimm had Francisco Lindor ground into a double-play and the crowd erupted with cheers.
But the bubble burst in the seventh.
Roberto Perez led off with a single, was bunted over to second base by Tyler Naquin and Rajai Davis followed with a walk.
That set the stage for Crisp, who stepped to the plate to hit for reliever Miller and singled to right to score pinch-runner Michael Martinez and silence the Wrigley Field crowd with the game’s only run.
“‘Cleveland against the world’, that’s kind of been the motto,” said Crisp. “Coming here and seeing all the blue in the stands and all the blue that was at our ballpark, you know the support for the Cubs is worldwide.
“Coming in here and getting the victory tonight is big for us.”
Game Four of Major League Baseball’s championship series is set for Saturday with Indians ace Corey Kluber, the Game One winner, scheduled to start against Chicago’s John Lackey.
Editing by Steve Keating / Ian Ransom