By Jordan Bastian and August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' bullpen came up big following a mid-game rain delay and rookie Giovanny Urshela delivered a tie-breaking RBI single to help Cleveland claim a 4-3 Interleague victory over the Cubs on Thursday at Progressive Field.
Cleveland closer Cody Allen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, teamed with Zach McAllister to strike out seven consecutive batters between the sixth and eighth inning, and set the tone for a strong four-plus-inning showing from the bullpen. Urshela's run-scoring hit off Chicago lefty Travis Wood in the seventh inning made the relief corps' work hold up for the win.
"I think there are so many different guys, different looks, different guys that can get big outs," Allen said about the Tribe bullpen. "You can piece it together any way you can to kind of maneuver a lineup or manage the game. We're all for it. We just want to win ballgames."
The game was delayed by rain for 25 minutes prior to first pitch, and then the clubs had to wait through a delay lasting one hour, 16 minutes in the top of the fifth inning. Between the weather, Cleveland and Chicago traded blows to pull into a 3-3 deadlock.
The Indians struck for three runs against Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel, who allowed an RBI double to Michael Brantley in a two-run first inning and a sacrifice fly to Yan Gomes in the fourth. Hammel struck out six and walked two in his four innings, though one run was unearned due to a passed ball.
"I've got to set a better tone early," Hammel said. "That's two outings now that I've given up first-inning runs. And it's all coming down to the fastball command. The walks start to rise a little bit because I'm pitching up in the zone with the four-seamer. I've got to get the fastball down that the knees. That's the bottom line right now."
Danny Salazar worked 4 2/3 innings, yielding three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts and a walk. Dexter Fowler delivered an RBI single off the hard-throwing righty in the third inning, and Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber continued his two-day hot streak, crushing his first career homer -- a two-run shot off Salazar -- in the fifth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Striking first: The Indians wasted little time in breaking through against Hammel. Jason Kipnis led off with a nine-pitch walk and rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor followed by slashing a pitch down the left-field line for a single. Brantley brought Kipnis home with a ground-rule double and Lindor later sprinted home and scored with a head-first slide on a passed ball, putting the Indians up 2-0 out of the gates.
"I about swallowed my chew," Indians manager Terry Francona joked, referring to Lindor's sprint to the plate. "But, he's quick enough where it really wasn't that close. That's the last thing you want to do, is make an out there in that situation. But, he got a good jump, and he was safe pretty easily."
Schwarber strikes back: A day after getting four hits in his first MLB start, rookie designated hitter Schwarber picked up where he left off by singling for the Cubs' first hit in the third inning. He came around to score on a hit by Fowler. Schwarber hit his first career home run, an opposite-field shot to left, to bring home Chris Coghlan and tie things up, 3-3, in the fifth. More >
"It's pretty impressive for a young guy that's just coming up and getting his feet wet," Hammel said. "We were expecting to maybe just get a look at him but he's actually made a pretty big impact in the few games we've had him."
Lindor's leather: Not only did Lindor show off his speed by scoring from third in the first inning, but he did so defensively, too. In the fifth, the shortstop sprinted into left field on a fly ball from Chris Denorfia. Lindor snared the ball from the air with an impressive over-the-shoulder catch that wowed the Progressive Field crowd. Earlier in the game, however, Lindor made a throwing error that helped the Cubs to a run in the third inning.
"He's a nice shortstop, real nice," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Really nice fielder with a good arm. Savvy and knows the game for a young guy."
Closing the fifth: Following the second rain delay of the night, Francona strayed away from conventional thinking. The Cubs had the bases loaded with two outs when the delay struck in the fifth inning. When play resumed, Francona handed the ball to the closer, Allen, who induced a flyout from Miguel Montero to end the inning. Allen then worked the sixth, striking out three. More >
"It kind of was just like, 'Cody would be a really good fit here.' We went and got him, and he was all fired up. That was good enough for me. He did a great job. I should have put him in right for two innings and brought him back. But, he did a good job. And I don't think a lot of guys can do that, but he's pretty special. And then, the guys behind him did a great job." -- Francona, on the decision to bring in Allen in the fifth inning
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With his single in the fifth inning, Kipnis extended his hitting streak to 13 games. On top of that, Kipnis' hitting streak at Progressive Field increased to 22 games, extending his ballpark record for a Cleveland batter. Brantley previously held that record with a 19-game streak at home last season.
When the Cubs struck out in seven consecutive at-bats, from the sixth to eighth inning, it marked the first time the club accomplished the dubious feat since September 17, 1999, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Gomes went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and caught seven innings for the Indians before leaving the game with what the team described as cervical (neck) tightness. Roberto Perez replaced Gomes behind the plate in the eighth inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Gomes singled and scored on Urshela's go-ahead hit.
"He just has a stiff neck," Francona said of Gomes. "It's all muscular -- it's fine. I don't know if he'll catch tomorrow or not, but he's OK."
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs: The Cubs travel to Minnesota to complete their mini-trek around the American League Central in a 7:10 p.m. CT start. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 3.80 ERA) will toss the series opener, facing the Twins for the first time in his career.
Indians: Cleveland will face its former bullpen coach, Rays manager Kevin Cash, during a three-game set against Tampa Bay this weekend. In Friday's series opener at 7:10 p.m. ET, righty Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 4.38 ERA) will take the mound in search of a career-best ninth win. The Indians will also begin their two-day celebration of the 1995 Indians team that reached the World Series.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.