CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians off to a great start and Roberto Perez finished off the Chicago Cubs in their first World Series game since 1945.
Kluber pitched neatly into the seventh inning, Perez hit two home runs and the Indians beat the Cubs 6-0 in the opener Tuesday night. AL Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh and got out of trouble in the eighth, preserving a 3-0 lead.
In a matchup between the teams with baseball's longest championship droughts, the Indians scored twice in the first inning off October ace Jon Lester and were on their way.
Perez drove in four runs — he became the first No. 9 batter to homer twice in a Series game, and the first Indians player to accomplish the feat. He hit a three-run drive to put it away.
Francisco Lindor added three hits, helping Cleveland manager Terry Francona to improve to 9-0 in the Series. Francona's success includes sweeps by his Boston teams in 2004 and '07.
The Game 1 winner has taken the title in the last six Series and 17 of 19.
Trevor Bauer, trying to come back from a sliced pinkie, starts Game 2 for the Indians on Wednesday night against Jake Arrieta. Because the forecast called for an increased chance of rain later in the evening, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of moving up the first pitch by an hour to 7:08 p.m.
Kluber struck out eight in the first three innings. He combined with Miller and Cody Allen to fan 15.
With the Indians hoping for their first title since 1948 and the Cubs seeking their first since 1908, Lester stumbled in the opening inning.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs, Jose Ramirez had a run-scoring swinging bunt single and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch.
Lester had been 3-0 in three Series starts with a 0.43 ERA.
Perez, who had three homers in 153 at-bats during the regular season, connected in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. His drive in the eighth was his third homer this postseason.
Teams that combined for 174 seasons of futility, America's biggest droughts since the Great Plains' Dust Bowl of the 1930s, captivated even many non-baseball fans.
On a night of civic pride, LeBron James and the NBA's Cavaliers received their championship rings next door prior to their season opener, and Cleveland hosted a World Series opener for the first time.
The Cubs had not played in the Series since five weeks after Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender ending World War II.
Kluber, whose win in the All-Star Game gave the AL home-field advantage on the Series, improved to 3-1 in the postseason and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.74. He is on track to start Games 4 and 7 in the manner of an old-style ace.
He was pitching on six days' rest this time, and his two-seam fastball was darting through the strike zone. He was helped by plate umpire Larry Vanover, whose generous calls on the low, outside corner contributed to 11 called strikeouts, six against Cubs batters.
Kluber struck out nine in six innings and walked none. He stranded Ben Zobrist after a leadoff double in the second and David Ross following a one-out single in the third.
Kyle Schwarber, making a surprise return in his first big league game since tearing knee ligaments on April 7, doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth — a drive kept in by a stiff wind on a 50-degree night. Kluber then got Baez to fly out.
Zobrist's leadoff double in the seventh finished Kluber, and Cleveland loaded the bases with no outs against Miller on Schwarber's walk and Javier Baez's single. Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras flied to Rajai Davis in short center, and Davis threw home rather than double up Schwarber, who had strayed far off second.
Using his intimidating slider, Miller struck out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the jam, then fanned Schwarber to strand runners at the corners in the eighth, his 46th pitch. Miller has thrown 20 scoreless innings in postseason play, including 13 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts this year.
Allen completed Cleveland's fourth postseason shutout and second in a row.
Ramirez also had three hits each for the Indians, who beat Toronto in the ALCS despite hitting just .168. Zobrist had three hit for the Cubs.
Lester gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, and was rattled by Vanover's calls, barking at the umpire in the third, then stopping for a discussion at the inning's end.
While Arrieta went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA during the regular season, he struggled to a 5.01 ERA in his final four starts. He allowed four runs over five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS.
Bauer lasted only two outs in his ALCS when his pinkie, cut in a drone accident, began bleeding.
Dexter Fowler took a called third strike from Kluber leading off the game, becoming the first Cubs player to bat in the Series since Don Johnson hit into a game-ending forceout against Detroit's Hal Newhouser in Game 7 in 1945.
TAKE A SEAT
Chicago benched right fielder Jason Heyward, in a 2-for-28 postseason slump, and started Chris Coghlan.