The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0 Tuesday night at Progressive Field to take a 1-0 lead in the World Series.
Tribe starting pitcher Corey Kluber struck out nine and allowed just four hits in six innings of work.
The Indians got on the board early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning after Cubs starter Jon Lester retired the first two batters. Francisco Lindor reached base on a single up the middle, then stole second – taking advantage of Lester’s inability to hold runners on. Lester then walked Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana.
Jose Ramirez drove in the first run and loaded the bases with a soft grounder to third. Lester hit Brandon Guyer with the first pitch he saw to score Napoli before Lonnie Chisenhall popped out to catcher David Ross in foul territory.
The Cubs threatened in the second with a lead-off double by Ben Zobrist, bringing 23-year-old slugger Kyle Schwarber to the plate as Chicago’s designated hitter for his first appearance against major-league pitching since suffering a torn ACL in the first week of the season. But Schwarber, who homered 5 times in the Cubs run to the National League Championship Series last year, struck out on a full count and the next two batters – Javier Baez and former Oakland Athletic Chris Coghlan – were called out on strikes.
In his second trip to the plate, Schwarber doubled with two outs and the bases empty in the fourth. The Cubs missed a chance to cut their deficit when Baez flew out to right.
Cleveland made it 3-0 on a home run by Roberto Perez in their half of fourth.
Kluber retired the next six batters he faced before Zobrist singled to lead off the seventh inning. Indians manager Terry Francona then handed the ball to relief ace Andrew Miller, who had allowed no runs and struck out 21 in 11 2/3 innings to that point in the postseason.
Miller walked Schwarber and the Cubs loaded the bases on a Baez single, but Willson Contreras flew out to center and Addison Russell and Ross struck out on the same slider that gave the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays fits.
Miller pitched his way out of a serious jam with the three-run lead intact, but the Cubs would threaten again in the eighth. After leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler lined out to center, Chris Bryant walked. Miller got Anthony Rizzo to fly to center for the second out, but Zobrist singled for his third hit of the game and Bryant advanced to third. Miller’s slider put the fire out though, as Schwarber looked at one called a strike and swung through two more.
Cleveland put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth. Guyer walked with two outs and then Chisenhall singled to left off reliever Justin Grimm, prompting Cubs manager Joe Maddon to bring in Hector Rondon to face Perez. The Indians catcher took Rondon deep, his second home run of the game and third of the postseason after hitting only three during the regular season. Rondon gave up a double to Rajai Davis before Jason Kipnis grounded out to end the inning.
Indians closer Cody Allen finished the Cubs off in the ninth, allowing one hit – a one-out double by Contreras – and striking out three.
Lester took the loss after pitching 5 2/3 innings, allowing 6 hits and 3 earned runs. He walked three and struck out eight.
The Indians host the Cubs in Game 2 Wednesday at 4 p.m. Pacific. Cleveland RHP Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA in the regular season) goes up against reigning N.L. Cy Young Award-winner RHP Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA).