CLEVELAND - Breaking down Game 7 of the World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field.
Cubs 8, Indians 7, 10 innings: Cubs win the series, 4-3.
The game: Pitching on short rest for the second straight outing and starting his third game of the World Series, Corey Kluber lacked the swing-and-miss stuff that beguiled Chicago in Games 1 and 4 of the series. The Cubs' deep lineup connected for a series of hard-hit balls against Kluber from the very start of the game, when Dexter Fowler led off with a home run to center field that gave the Cubs an early lead.
Chicago tacked on two more in the top of the fourth on a rally highlighted by a Willson Contreras double off the wall in deep right-center field. Javier Baez ended Kluber's night by leading off the fifth with a home run, and the Cubs added another run off reliever Andrew Miller later in the inning to extend their lead.
The Indians touched Kyle Hendricks for a run in the third on a Coco Crisp double down the left field line followed by a Carlos Santana single.
Joe Maddon removed Hendricks after 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball for lefty Jon Lester, who entered with Santana on first in the fifth, allowed Jason Kipnis to reach on a infield dribbler that catcher David Ross threw past first baseman Anthony Rizzo for an error. On an ensuing wild pitch, both Santana and Kipnis scored to close the Cubs' lead to 5-3.
Ross, playing the final game of his 15-year career, redeemed himself in the top half of the next inning with a home run off Miller to extend the Cubs' lead to 6-3. Lester pitched well across three innings of relief, but Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman came in with two outs in the eight and gave away the lead in short order on an RBI double by Brandon Guyer and a game-tying homer by Rajai Davis.
After a 17-minute rain delay before the start of the 10th inning, Kyle Schwarber smacked a base hit off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw that snuck through the shift into left field. Pinch-runner Albert Almora Jr. took second on a Kris Bryant fly out, so the Indians intentionally walked Rizzo to get to Ben Zobrist. Zobrist lashed a double the opposite way to score Almora, then, after an intentional walk to Addison Russell, Miguel Montero smacked a single to score another run.
Man of the moment: Zobrist. For the second straight season, the versatile veteran helped his team to a World Series win. In the 2016 version, Zobrist hit .357 in the World Series and tallied the game-winning RBI with his emotional tenth-inning double. An Illinois native, Zobrist will likely never again need to pay for his own food or beer in the city of Chicago.
Pivot point: On a short fly ball to Indians center fielder Davis in the top of the fourth, Bryant tagged and ran for home. Davis appeared momentarily caught off-guard by the aggressive baserunning but fired a good throw to the plate just a hair too late to catch Bryant. The Cubs did not trail after that moment.
Manager's special: Maddon caught criticism for going to Lester in the fifth with Hendricks still pitching well, and the shaky opening to Lester's outing appeared to bode poorly for the decision. But the lefty settled swiftly and left the game after throwing three solid innings. By pitching into the eighth, Lester was able to get the game to Chapman. But...
Needing a mulligan: Maddon used Chapman for 1 1/3 innings with a big lead in Game 6, and both the manager and pitcher insisted Chapman would be ready to go and fully healthy for Game 7 action. But Chapman entered Game 7 with two outs in the eighth and the Cubs holding a three-run lead, and promptly coughed it up on a hard-hit double to the gap by Guyer and the home run down the left field line by Davis.
What you missed on TV: Plenty of celebrities, including the typical Cubs set -- Bill Murray, John Cusack, Eddie Vedder, Billy Corgan, etc. -- plus lesser stars like Charlie Sheen cheering on the Indians. But none in attendance received nearly the reception of Cavs guard J.R. Smith, who immediately stripped his shirt off when caught on camera for the stadium scoreboard.
State of the series: It's over. The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series for the first time since 1908. It actually happened.
(2016 © USA TODAY)