Ross, Lester help Cubs stay alive in World Series
CHICAGO (AP) David Ross isn't done just yet. Same for Jon Lester and the rest of the Chicago Cubs.
Ross played a starring role as the Cubs stayed alive in the World Series, topping the Indians 3-2 in Game 5 on Sunday. The 39-year-old catcher, who plans to retire after the season, had a superb night behind the plate and delivered a clutch sacrifice fly that helped Chicago to its first Series win at Wrigley Field in 71 years.
''I've had a storybook year, honestly,'' Ross said. ''There are so many things I can talk about that have happened to me over this year. That's just another cool one to get the sac fly that puts us ahead and we hold on.''
He even got a shoutout from Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who dedicated ''Take Me Out to the Ball Game'' to Ross during the seventh-inning stretch of his final home start. ''We love you Rossy,'' Vedder said as the crowd roared. ''Let's take this show to Cleveland!''
''Everybody was looking at me like, dude, Eddie Vedder just dedicated the whole seventh-inning stretch to you,'' Ross said, ''and I'm like, my mind's blown, I'm thinking about being out of the game and he's a quality individual. He's just a good person, rock star, everybody knows who Eddie Vedder is. He says my name, it's a huge compliment.''
Ross and his good buddy Lester also combined to slow Cleveland's attack after the Indians rolled to a 7-2 victory Saturday night. Lester bounced back from a so-so outing in the Series opener, pitching six solid innings to improve to 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five postseason starts this year.
It was a familiar performance for the left-hander, who helped Boston win the World Series in 2007 and 2013. He was 3-0 in three career starts in the Fall Classic before dropping Game 1 against Cleveland when he was nicked for three runs in 5 2/3 innings.
''You're just grinding from pitch one,'' Lester said. ''You're trying to make the perfect pitch every time, and at the same time still be aggressive.''
Ross' Game 5 included a pair of adventures in foul territory. He had one foul pop go off his glove near the railing of the visitors' dugout, but first baseman Anthony Rizzo was there for a juggling catch . Ross collided with Rizzo on a foul popup in the fourth and held on for the out.
But Ross put together his best work when he stayed behind the plate. He did a solid job of framing close called third strikes to Brandon Guyer in the fifth and Jason Kipnis in the sixth. After Kipnis' strikeout, Ross cut down Francisco Lindor trying to steal second for the final out of the inning.
Ross' defensive work was particularly important with Lester having his usual struggles with runners on the basepaths.
''It starts and ends with Jon for me,'' Ross said. ''This guy, there's not a better way to go out your last start than catching Jon Lester.''
The Cubs trailed 1-0 before scoring three times in the fourth. Ross capped the rally with a sac fly to left with the bases loaded, driving in Ben Zobrist.
Ross, nicknamed "Grandpa Rossy" by his young teammates as he wraps up his 15th season, was taken out for a pinch hitter in the sixth, and he shared a big hug with Lester in the dugout.
''I just said I love him,'' Ross said. ''Thanks for everything. I love him.''
Lester and Ross have been together for years and often hang out together off the field. Lester agreed to a $155 million, six-year deal in December 2014, a key moment in the Cubs' resurgence. Ross then followed Lester to Chicago for a $5 million, two-year contract, and quickly became an important leader in the clubhouse.
''I love him like a brother, like a dad, like a mentor,'' Rizzo said. ''I was pretty emotional, seeing him in that at-bat driving in that run, throwing that guy out. We were talking before the game, this will be a blast. We got the W. We just need to get two more Ws.''
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap