Lester, Chapman save the Cubs for another day

Joe Maddon knew exactly what to do, no ifs, no ands and no buts about it.

His Chicago Cubs faced extinction, another long winter’s hibernation if they didn’t win Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night.

So, with his team leading the Cleveland Indians by one run with one out in the seventh inning, it was time to throw convention into the Wrigley Field wind.

“Give me Chapman,” he said.

AND AROLDIS CHAPMAN, the Cuban Missile, the former Cincinnati Reds closer, strolled to the mound with his mission clear from Maddon, “Get me eight outs.”

That’s what Chapman did in the longest outing of his career, 2 2/3 innings — no runs, one hit, no walks, four strikeouts.

He finished the game with Classic Chapman, a three-pitch strikeout of Jose Ramirez: 102, 102, 101.

IT ENDED ANOTHER nail-chewing, cheek-pinching World Series game, another pitching clinic, and the Cubs won it, 3-2, to stave off elimination.

Instead, the World Series returns to Cleveland Tuesday night with the Indians leading three games to two, still needing one victory to win it.

FOR MOST OF THIS season, the spotlight has shined brightly on Cleveland relief pitcher Andrew Miller, whom the Tribe acquired at the trade deadine from the New York Yankees.

Chapman? He, too, came from the Yankees at the same time, a deal that sent four prospects to the Yankees for a closer who is a free agent after the World Series.

But on this night he was worth every body the Cubs peddled to the Yankees to get him.

THE TRIBE TOOK A 1-0 lead against Cubs starter Jon Lester in the second inning when Ramirez, the man Chapman struck out to end the game, drilled a one-out home run into the face of a strong wind into the left field stands.

It stayed that way until the fourth when the Cubs scored all three of their runs against Trevor Bauer.

THE INNING BEGAN WITH Kris Bryant driving a home run into the left field seats, his first RBI of the World Series from a guy who may win the National League MVP trophy.

Anthony Rizzo followed Bryant with a double, only the second time during the Series that Bryant and Rizzo put together back-to-back hits.

Ben Zobrist picked on a 3-and-0 pitch and singled to right field to put runners on third and first.

Addison dribbled one up the third base line and beat it for a hit as Rizzo scored for a 2-1 lead.

Javier Baez, who has been swinging at anything resembling a white object and mostly missing, dropped a bunt and beat it for a hit.

David Ross, the 39-year-old retiring personal catcher for Lester, lofted a sacrifice fly to right field for a 3-1 lead.

The Tribe cut the lead to one run in the sixth when Rajai Davis singled and stole second, enabling him to score on Francisco Lindor’s single.

Lester, who will not throw to first base, mainly because he can’t without throwing it into right field, ignored Lindor and he, too, bolted for second.

But the strong-armed Ross gunned him down to end the inning.

THE INDIANS HAD A chance to score in the fifth, but Lester buttoned it up after Carlos Santana led the inning with a double. He moved to third on a ground ball. And with one out, that’s where he stayed as Lester struck out Brandon Guyer and retired Roberto Perez on a grounder to short.

Chicago relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. gave up a single to Mike Napoli to start the seventh and a passed ball on just-installed catcher Willson Contreras moved the potential tying run to second base.

Carlos Santana flied to left for the first out and that’s when Maddon decided to unleash Chapman.

HE STRUCK OUT JOSE Ramirez and hit Guyer with a pitch. Now the potential go ahead run also was on base. Chapman doused the threat by getting Roberto Perez on a grounder to second.

The eighth? With one out Rajai Davis singled to first base when Chapman failed to cover the bag. Jason Kipnis flied to left for the second out. With Cleveland’s best hitter in the postseason, Francisco Lindor, at the plate, Davis stole second — once again putting the potential tying run in scoring position.

Chapman struck out Lindor on a called strike three that whizzed past him at 102 miles an hour.

The ninth? One-two-three. The first two hitters each hit 34 home runs during the season, but Napoli grounded to short and Santana flied to right.

THEN RAMIREZ WENT down on three pitches that he probably heard but didn’t see.

So the Cubs won their first World Series game in Wrigley Field since Game 6 of the 1945 World Series against the Detroit Tiger. But they lost Game 7.

Now the scene shifts to Cleveland for one or two games. The Tribe needs one win, the Cubs need two.


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