CHICAGO - Willson Contreras and Cameron Maybin were plunked by consecutive pitches from Cleveland reliever Nick Wittgren in the ninth inning, forcing home the winning run as the Chicago Cubs beat the Indians 6-5 Tuesday night.
Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor hit a tying, two-run homer in the top of the ninth, but the Indians couldn’t take advantage.
Left-hander Oliver Pérez (1-1) allowed a one-out walk to Kris Bryant in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single that advanced Bryant to third. Wittgren drilled Contreras with a 1-1 fastball, then hit Maybin with a bases-loaded changeup.
“That’s something that’s been in this team’s culture for a while, coming from behind and winning games that we aren’t really supposed to,” Bryant said.
Wittgren said he tried to induce a groundball for a potential double play.
“Last pitch, changeup, I was just trying to throw it middle to going into him, so then he gets on top of it and rolls it over and then we have a chance for the double. Obviously I just let it go way too soon,” Wittgren said.
Trailing 5-3 in the ninth, Josh Naylor drew a leadoff walk from Cubs closer Jeremy Jeffress. One out later, Lindor hit a two-run shot to left. It was his eighth of the season and the second blown save for Jeffress (4-1).
Javier Báez also homered for the Cubs, who increased their lead to five games in the NL Central.
Lindor’s home run took away a victory for Cubs starter Yu Darvish. The NL Cy Young Award candidate allowed three runs and nine hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one as he bounced back from a loss to the Reds in his last outing.
Darvish was not happy with his performance.
“Today I didn’t have anything. I could only throw strikes, that was it. The defense and the offense had my back and that gave me a lot of confidence,” Darvish said. “I was terrible today. I didn’t have anything. I can’t believe I threw seven innings today and we won.”
Rookie Tyler Naquin was 4 for 4 for the Indians, who lost their season-high seventh straight game.
“There’s pressure,” Lindor said. “We’re humans. We see how many games we have left. We see the scoreboards.”
With the score tied at three in the seventh, Indians reliever James Karinchak walked Bryant with one out. Bryant advanced to third on Rizzo’s single, and Contreras followed with a sacrifice fly to right to score the go-ahead run.
Bryant, who has been struggling all season, scored three runs.
“It would be very easy to get down in the dumps, a lot of us are not where we want to be, but there is a lot of good people around us that support us. Anytime you are out there winning, it makes it sting a little less,” said Bryant.
Báez manufactured an insurance run in the eighth. He walked, stole second and came around to score after catcher Sandy León’s throw went into center. Baez never hesitated, rounding third and beating Cleveland’s relay.
Ian Happ doubled to center for the Cubs in the fifth and scored on Bryant’s single. Rizzo followed with an RBI double to tie the game at 3.
Lindor had three hits and four RBIs, including a run-scoring double during a two-run third. He was later thrown out at home by right fielder Jason Heyward on José Ramírez’s flyout.
DeShields doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on Lindor’s single to give the Indians a 3-1 lead.
With one out in the second inning, Báez hit a towering home run to straightaway center field to put the Cubs up 1-0. It was Baez’s seventh of the season.
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco pitched six innings and allowed three runs and eight hits with five strikeouts and one walk in the no-decision.
Cubs: RHP Tyler Chatwood suffered a setback in his hopes of returning from a forearm strain . “I don’t want to make a statement that his season is over, but I would say there is definitely a lot of caution,” said Cubs manager David Ross.
Indians: RHP Aaron Civale (3-5) is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Cubs. He has gone at least six innings in all nine of his starts this season, despite losing three of his last four starts.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (2-2), who is coming off one of his best starts of the season, is Chicago’s scheduled starter. He struck out a season-high eight batters in six scoreless innings against the Brewers on Friday.