Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 12 News List

‘Cursed’ Cubs back in World Series

GOT HIS GOAT:Some say the club was cursed by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern when he was asked to remove his pet goat during the World Series in 1945

AFP, CHICAGO

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo reacts after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday.

Photo: Jon Durr, USA Today

The Chicago Cubs are returning to the World Series for the first time in 71 years, a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers giving them a chance to end the longest title drought in North American sports.

The hard-luck Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 and last played in Major League Baseball’s championship showcase in 1945, but with the victory before 42,386 ecstatic fans at Wrigley Field, the Cubs wrapped up the National League Championship Series 4-2 and face the Cleveland Indians in the 112th World Series starting tomorrow in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Indians have not won a World Series title since 1948.

“I thought we played one of our best games we played all year tonight, under these circumstances,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “The defense, the pitching, the hitting. That was a complete game of baseball.”

The Cubs pounced quickly on Los Angeles Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw, scoring two runs in the first inning to stake Chicago starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks to an early lead.

After giving up a first-pitch single, Hendricks dominated, facing the minimum number of Dodgers hitters through 7-1/3 shutout innings.

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo both homered off Kershaw as the Dodgers were denied their first trip to the World Series since 1988.

A Cubs team that won a major league-leading 103 regular-season games chased Kershaw after five innings.

Kershaw, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a Game 2 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field a week earlier, gave up five runs, four of them earned, on seven hits.

“The Cubs’ hitters, they had a great game plan tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There was traffic all night for Clayton and he gave it everything he had, but when he did make a mistake, they made him pay.”

When the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play to end the game, Wrigley Field erupted as Cubs players stormed the mound to celebrate.

“This is unbelievable right now,” Hendricks said. “Today, that might have been the best game I pitched all year. I had my fastball command, change-up, curveball, I had everything going.”

Chicago second baseman Javier Baez delivered more heads-up defensive play, tagging Andrew Toles out to spark a double play in the first inning.

In the bottom half of the inning, Kris Bryant singled to right field to score Dexter Fowler for the first run and the Cubs capitalized on Toles’ error in left field to score a second run on Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice fly.

It was the first time this season that Kershaw allowed two runs in the first inning and it was a sign of things to come.

Addison Russell led off the bottom of the second with a double and scored on Fowler’s two-out single. Contreras homered off Kershaw in the fourth and Rizzo in the fifth.

It was sweet relief for long-suffering Cubs fans, whose team were one win from the World Series in 1984 before San Diego rallied to win three straight games and advance to the Fall Classic.

In 2003, the Cubs led the National League Championship Series 3-2 and were up 3-0 in the eighth inning of the sixth game when a fan, Steve Bartman, tried to grab a foul ball in the front row of the stands and disrupted a potential leaping catch by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou.

The Florida Marlins rallied to triumph in that game and the next, denying the Cubs again.

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