By Ryan Lewis
CHICAGO — The Indians need one more win to give Cleveland two.
The Indians fell behind early, fought back to secure the first lead change of the series and held on to beat the Chicago Cubs, 7-2, in Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field Saturday night.
With it, they took a commanding 3-1 series lead, leaving them one win short of pulling off their improbable October and giving the city of Cleveland its second championship parade in four months.
Pitching on three days of rest, Corey Kluber gave up one run on five hits in six innings and Jason Kipnis sealed the victory with a three-run homer in the seventh. Kluber struck out six and walked one.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Kluber but never put much of anything together offensively until the game was out of hand. The Indians, meanwhile, quickly punched back for two runs — in part thanks to Kluber’s bat — in the second before adding on throughout the night.
Carlos Santana, who was started at first base over Mike Napoli by manager Terry Francona, led off the second inning by rewarding the move and slamming a solo home run to tie it 1-1. Kluber later came to bat with two runners on and two outs. After battling Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey to a full count, Kluber tapped a ball down the third-base line and forced an errant throw by Kris Bryant. With the ball trickling away from first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Lonnie Chisenhall, who reached on another throwing error by Bryant, easily scored to put the Indians on top 2-1.
Kipnis finally broke out of his postseason slump Saturday night with three hits. He led off the third with a double and came around to score on Francisco Lindor’s RBI single to center field, putting the Indians ahead 3-1.
After Lonnie Chisenhall extended the lead to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, Kipnis delivered the knockout blow off of Travis Wood to put the Indians ahead 7-1.
At that time, while Vince Vaughn tried to rally Cubs fans with his rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Andrew Miller was warming up with a six-run lead, a virtual death sentence for any possible Cubs comeback. The Cubs did draw blood against Miller when Dexter Fowler lined a solo home run to left field in the eighth inning. It was the first earned run Miller has allowed this postseason in 17 innings pitched.
Miller also struck out two hitters to give him 29, a new major league record for any relief pitcher in a single postseason.
After the hiccup in the first inning, Kluber again became a problem for the Cubs, who were held to one run or fewer for the third time in four games this series. Kluber has now allowed three earned runs in 301/3 innings this postseason for a 0.89 ERA.
Kluber, pitching short rest for the second time this postseason, only needed 81 pitches to get through his six innings. Should the Cubs force a Game 7 in Cleveland, Kluber would throw again on short rest, and is now set up to do so.
But with the Indians’ resounding win Saturday night that again quieted a raucous Wrigley Field crowd, Trevor Bauer will take the mound against the Cubs’ Jon Lester in Game 5 on Sunday with a chance to clinch the Indians’ first World Series title since 1948.