CLEVELAND -- One-half inning after the Indians tied a thriller of a Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, the Cubs reclaimed the lead in a swirl of limbs and loose dirt at home plate en route to an 8-7 title-clinching victory at Progressive Field.
The Cubs played small ball for a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Kris Bryant, coming off a four-hit night in Game 6, singled off Indians ace Corey Kluber to cap an eight-pitch at-bat, then advanced when Kluber's 0-2 fastball hit Anthony Rizzo on the right arm. Bryant advanced on Ben Zobrist's fielder's choice, with Rizzo out at second base, then scored the go-ahead run on Game 6 hero Addison Russell's sacrifice fly.
It was a close play at the plate. Brant slid safely under a strong but slightly high throw from Indians center fielder Rajai Davis to catcher Roberto Perez. The Indians didn't challenge.
The Cubs then extended their lead to 3-1 in the fourth on Willson Contreras' double. Javier Baez's leadoff homer in the fifth chased Kluber. Later in the inning, Rizzo ripped an RBI single off Andrew Miller, scoring Bryant.
The Cubs' earlier score came via a quick strike from the game's very first batter. Cubs fans mixed with Indians fans at Progressive Field, and Chicago leadoff man Dexter Fowler wasted no time in giving the visitors something to cheer about. Fowler bashed Indians ace Kluber's fourth pitch over the center-field fence for the first home run by the game's very first batter in a World Series Game 7.
It was only the 11th such home run any World Series game, and the first since the Giants' Gregor Blanco went deep off Yordano Ventura to open Game 2 against the Royals in 2014. Per Statcast™, Fowler's homer traveled an estimated 406 feet with an exit velocity of 103.9 mph and a 33-degree launch angle. Batted balls with those characteristics are home runs 68 percent of the time.
Adam McCalvy has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.