Coco Crisp drove in the only run of the game.
CHICAGO – The atmosphere in Wrigleyville was electric all day Friday as fans flocked to the area to be a part of the Cubs’ first World Series home game since 1945.
If only their offense had been a part of it, too.
Josh Tomlin and three relievers combined to shut out the Cubs in Game 3, taking a 1-0 decision thanks to Coco Crisp’s seventh-inning RBI single.
Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago bullpen deserved a better fate after holding Cleveland to one run, but the Cubs were blanked for the fourth time in their last eight games. To put that in perspective, they were shut out only six times in 162 games this season.
The Cubs had a chance in the ninth after Anthony Rizzo led off with a single and Jason Heyward reached on Mike Napoli’s two-out error. But Cody Allen finished off his four-out save, striking out Javier Baez for the final out with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Unlike the first three, which featured Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Corey Kluber, Chicago struggled to get anything going against Tomlin, who had a very hittable 4.40 ERA during his 30 regular-season appearances.
Now the Cubs face the same scenario they did in the NLCS against the Dodgers, trailing the best-of-seven series, 2-1. Unlike that series, they will play the next two games at home, though they now know they’ll have to return to Cleveland to close out the series if they are to win it all for the first time since 1908.
History says they’ve got about a 1-in-3 chance of pulling it off. Of the 57 previous times the World Series has been tied 1-1, the Game 3 victor has gone on to win the title 37 times (64.9%), including 11 of the last 14 dating back to 1980.
John Lackey will try to even the series on Saturday, while Kluber returns on short rest for Game 4, looking to give the Tribe a commanding series lead.
With a stiff wind blowing out to center field at 14 miles per hour, both pitchers knew they would have to keep the ball down in the strike zone in order to minimize the damage in the air.
Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck added another dimension to the starters’ nights, calling an inconsistent strike zone that at one point actually had Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis shaking his head in disbelief after Kris Bryant drew a leadoff walk in the fourth inning on a pitch that appeared to be right over the middle of the plate.
The game was scoreless into the fifth, though neither starter would survive that inning.
Hendricks loaded the bases with one out, bringing Justin Grimm into the game to face Francisco Lindor. Grimm, who did not induce a double play this season in 56 innings including the postseason, got Lindor to ground into a 4-6-3, ending the threat to keep the game scoreless.
Jorge Soler led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, only the second hit of the night against Tomlin. Soler advanced on a groundout, and with Miguel Montero due up with two out and the go-ahead runner at second, Terry Francona summoned Andrew Miller from the bullpen.
Montero lined out to right field to end the inning, resulting in the first World Series game since 2012 to be scoreless after five innings.
Carl Edwards Jr. tossed a perfect sixth, though Miller did him one better by striking out the top three hitters in the Cubs lineup in the bottom of the inning.
Edwards Jr. wasn’t as fortunate in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single by Roberto Perez, who was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Michael Martinez. Tyler Naquin bunted the runner to second, then a wild pitch advanced him to third.
After Rajai Davis drew a walk to put runners at the corners, Coco Crisp lined a single to right field, easily scoring Martinez for the game’s first run. Soler made a great throw to third to nail Davis for the second out, then Baez did a great job of backing up Rizzo after the first baseman Buckner-ed a ball, throwing out Kipnis at first base to end the frame.
The Cubs nearly caught a game-changing break in their half of the seventh as Lonnie Chisenhall pulled up as he approached Soler’s fly ball down the right-field line, letting it drop in for a two-out triple. But Bryan Shaw retired Baez, stranding the tying run at third.
Kyle Schwarber, one of the heroes from the first two games, pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot in the eighth, but he broke his bat on a pop up to Lindor, deflating the ballpark.
Dexter Fowler followed with a two-out single to put the tying run on base, but Allen retired Bryant to end the eighth before surviving the ninth.