CHICAGO -- On a day where both starters dazzled, Kris Bryant stole the show with a two-out, walk-off home run in the ninth inning as the Cubs defeated the Indians, 2-1, on Monday at Wrigley Field. Monday's game was a makeup of a game scheduled for June 15 that was postponed because of inclement weather.
It was the rookie third baseman's second career walk-off home run, pushing the Cubs 6 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco for the second Wild Card spot. Chicago picked up its 12th walk-off win of the season as it moved to a Major League best 20-4 since July 29.
"We just all believe in ourselves," Bryant said. "It's someone new every day. That's just the way it's been going this year. We're riding the wave, and it's a good one."
His starter, Jon Lester, shined in 8 2/3 innings. He was at his best on Monday following his shortest start of the year, in which he allowed seven earned runs.The left-hander allowed just six hits and struck out six while inducing four double plays, each of which ended an inning. But he surrendered a single to Carlos Santana with two out in the ninth inning to spoil the shutout and the win.
Indians starter Corey Kluber was equally impressive. He carried a perfect game through 5 1/3 innings before David Ross broke it up with a single to left field. The 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner allowed four hits and struck out 11 on 121 pitches but walked away with a no-decision.
"He 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."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Not one, not two, not three: In his first game back with the Cubs since being placed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, Tommy La Stella helped turn four double plays for Lester. Cleveland grounded into one in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings, but perhaps none more impressive than the third frame. On a bunt by Kluber down the first-base line, Anthony Rizzo slid to keep the ball fair and fired to second base. La Stella covered at first to get out of the inning.
"That's why pitching and defense [matter]," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "[La Stella] had a really good day on defense today. I thought Starlin [Castro] had a real crispy game … but Tommy had himself a nice game, too."
Kluber vs. Lester: Monday's pitchers' duel was not limited to the mound. In the bottom of the third inning, Lester gave the reigning Cy Young winner a battle from the batter's box. Lester, who entered Monday just 1-for-80 in his career at the plate, engaged in an 11-pitch at-bat with Kluber, fouling off five pitches along the way. The prolonged clash concluded with a flyout to deep left field by the Cubs' starter.
"He drew it out a bunch," Francona said of Lester's at-bat. "And then he ended up hitting the ball hard. That's certainly not one of Lester's strengths. He's got a lot of them, but that's not one of them."
"His track record speaks for himself," Lester added. "Every time I'm going up there, I'm just trying to battle and have a good at-bat. Obviously you know what my track record is on that." More >
To dive, or not to dive: Ross' single to end Kluber's 0-for-16 run out of the gates dropped a few steps in front of Indians outfielder Michael Brantley, who sprinted in, but slowed at the last second. In the seventh inning with Chicago's Chris Coghlan on second base, Tribe right fielder Jerry Sands made an all-out diving attempt to snare Rizzo's triple but came up short to help the Cubs to their first run.
Francona had no issue with Brantley pulling up on Ross' single.
"That would've been a really [tough play]," Francona said. "I get it from a fan's perspective. But, from a game perspective, if he dives for that, we're in a 0-0 game, that would've been tough."
Santana stops shutout: Lester opened the ninth inning by hitting Ryan Raburn with a pitch, setting up the game-tying scenario for the Indians. The Cubs' lefty struck out Cleveland's top two batters -- Jason Kipnis and Brantley -- but surrendered a two-out single to Santana that scored Abraham Almonte (pinch-running for Raburn), tying the game, 1-1.
"That was a great effort. He gave every ounce of whatever he had. That ball was probably six or eight inches off the plate, in. He got jammed and got it up there. That's just kind of the way the game is sometimes, but Jerry gave a great effort." -- Francona, on Sands' dive attempt on Rizzo's triple
"It was a lot better at-bat than a .020-something hitter. He battled and saw a lot of pitches and ultimately got out, but he ran my pitch count up pretty good there." -- Kluber, on Lester's third-inning at-bat
"I'm not worried about him. If I'm not focused on my start, then I'm worried about the wrong thing. Obviously you know with Corey over there, you're going to have a little bit of a battle. You gotta try to keep your team in the game the best you can." -- Lester, on any added pressure or new approach with Kluber on the mound.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
By facing the minimum through the first four innings on Monday, Kluber joined Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw as the only pitchers this season to not allow a baserunner through at least four innings of three separate starts (via ESPN Stats and Information).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Ross had his second home run of the season taken away after a Crew Chief review overturned the call on the field. Third-base umpire Lance Barrett signaled a home run as the ball hooked down the line, but replay showed the ball was just outside the foul pole. Francona was unable to challenge the call, but he spoke with umpires before they looked at the call.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Following an 11-game, 11-day, four-city road trip, the Indians head home on Tuesday to open a two-game series against the Brewers. Taking the ball in the 7:10 p.m. ET opener will be Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin (1-1, 2.03 ERA), who has allowed only three runs with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 13 1/3 innings since rejoining the rotation.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta (15-6, 2.30 ERA) looks for his 13th consecutive quality start when Chicago begins a six-game road stretch on Tuesday against the Giants. The Cubs hope to put more distance between themselves and San Francisco as both clubs compete for the National League's final Wild Card spot. First pitch from AT&T Park is slated for 9:15 p.m. CT.
Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.