CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s Jon Lester and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber locked up in a terrific pitchers’ duel.
But after the marquee starters left the game, Kris Bryant walked off with the key hit.
Bryant homered with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the surging Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Indians on Monday in a makeup of a rain out from June 15.
The rookie, who had homered twice Sunday, lined a pitch from Cleveland reliever Zach McAllister (3-4) into the right field bleachers to give Chicago its fifth straight win and 21st victory in 26 games.
The wind was blowing steadily to right all game, but only Bryant came close to taking advantage of it as he went deep for the 20th time.
“It was a great pitchers’ duel,” Bryant said. “I thought Jon had enough to pull it out but sometimes you’ve got to give credit to the other team.
“They came through and I knew I was going to get an at-bat there and I made the most of it.”
Carlos Santana singled home pinch runner Abraham Almonte with the tying run with two out in the ninth to spoil Lester’s bid for his first shutout and complete game with the Cubs.
That Bryant came through in the bottom of the inning came as no surprise to Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
“He’s definitely not intimidated by the moment,” Maddon said.
Backed by four double plays, Lester rebounded from his shortest start of the season to pitch his longest since joining the Cubs. He was relieved by Hector Rondon (5-2) with two outs in the ninth after scattering six hits and striking out six.
“(Lester) had everything going on,” Maddon said. “I felt really good about him in the ninth inning.
“We had to pitch that well. Their guy was outstanding. Our guy was outstanding.”
Anthony Rizzo’s triple in the seventh drove in Chris Coghlan, who had doubled for only Chicago’s second hit, to break a scoreless tie.
Kluber flirted with a no-hitter for the third time in his last four starts, then allowed just one run on four hits while striking out in 11 in 7 2/3 innings. He retired the first 16 Cubs hitters before back-up catcher David Ross lined a single to center with one out in the sixth.
“(Kluber) was good. He and Lester both,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “On a day when the wind’s blowing out, it wasn’t a factor until the last hitter of the game.”
“There was absolutely zero wiggle room and he just went toe to toe and pitched about as good as you can. He executed pitches all day.”
Kluber said he appreciated the “competition aspect” of being locked in a battle and dealing with the Lester, but added, “It would be a lot more enjoyment if we were up like 10-0.”
Lester nearly matched Kluber through the first seven, facing only 22 Cleveland hitters.
Both starters rebounded from shaky previous outings after being on rolls.
Lester had won four straight decisions in five starts before lasting only 2.2 innings against Detroit last Wednesday when he gave up seven runs on seven hits in a 15-8 loss. In his previous five outings, the lefty permitted eight runs on 27 hits and struck out 40.
It looked like the Cubs might have their first hit — and a 1-0 lead — in the third when Ross smashed the first pitch he faced just wide of the left field foul pole. The drive was originally called a home run, but was overturned following a video review.
Indians: All-Star 2B Jason Kipnis was back in the leadoff spot after being held out of the starting lineup for rest on Sunday at New York. Kipnis pinch-hit in that contest.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler (left oblique stain) and RHP Jason Motte (right shoulder strain) were placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game. Motte won’t throw for seven to 10 says. Soler could be out for up to a month.
The Cubs recalled infielder Tommy La Stella and lefty Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa in time for the contest. La Stella was in the starting lineup at second base and batted sixth.
IF Addison Russell got the day off to be with his fiancee, who is expecting their first child.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU