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Chicago Cubs end World Series curse

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016

Kris Bryant started to smile even before he fielded the ball. And with his throw to first for the final out, the agonizing wait 'til next year was over at last.

No more Billy Goat, no more Bartman, no more black-cat curses.

For a legion of fans who waited a lifetime, fly that W: Your Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.

Ending more than a century of flops, futility and frustration, the Cubs won their first title since 1908, outlasting the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings of a Game 7 thriller early Thursday.

They even had to wait out an extra-inning rain delay to end the drought.

"It happened. It happened. Chicago, it happened," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after gloving the ball for the final out. "We did it. We're world champions. I tell ya, we're world champions. I can't believe it."

Rizzo put that final ball in his pocket , David Ross got carried off the field by his teammates and Bill Murray partied in the clubhouse.

And the whole time, blue-clad fans who traveled from Wrigley Field filled nearly the entire lower deck behind the Chicago dugout at Progressive Field, singing "Go, Cubs, Go!" in rain. They held up those white flags with the large blue "W" on a night many of their forebears had waited for in vain.

Lovable losers for generations, the Cubs nearly let this one get away, too. All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman blew a 6-3 lead with two outs in the eighth when Rajai Davis hit a tying, two-run homer.

But the Cubs, after tormenting their fans one more time, came right back after a 17-minute rain delay before the top of the 10th.

Ben Zobrist hit an RBI double and Miguel Montero singled home a run to make it 8-6. Davis delivered an RBI single with two outs in the bottom half, but Mike Montgomery closed it out at 12:47 a.m., and the celebration was on.

"I think about so many millions of people giving so much love and support to this team for so many years," said owner Tom Ricketts, who family bought the team in 2009.

Manager Joe Maddon's team halted the longest title drought in baseball, becoming the first club to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit since the 1985 Kansas City Royals.

"This is an epic game. It's epic. I can't believe we were able to do it - 108 years in the making," Zobrist said. "We did it."

"They never quit, either," Zobrist said. "They kept coming at us."

Cleveland was trying to win its first crown since 1948, but manager Terry Francona's club lost the last two games at home.

World Series favorites since spring training, Chicago led the majors with 103 wins this season.

The Cubs then ended more than a century of misery for their loyal fans - barely. Bryant, one of Chicago's young stars, began to celebrate even before fielding a grounder by Michael Martinez to third base and throwing it across to Rizzo for the last out.

Zobrist was chosen as the World Series MVP, a year after he helped the Royals win the championship. Zobrist was among the players brought to the Cubs by Theo Epstein, the baseball guru who added another crown to his collection. He also assembled the Red Sox team that broke Boston's 86-year drought with the 2004 championship.

From Curse of the Bambino to the Billy Goat Curse, he ended another jinx.

While Cubs fans hugged with delight, there was only despair for the Indians, who now have gone longer than anyone without a crown. In the Indians' previous World Series appearance, they were a double-play grounder from winning the 1997 title before losing game seven in 11 innings to the Marlins.

Twenty-one other teams had won the World Series since Cubs last were champions. They reached the top again on the 39,466th day after Orval Overall's three-hit shutout won the 1908 finale at Detroit in a game that took 1:24.

At the time, Theodore Roosevelt was president, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states, and the first Ford Model T car was two weeks old.

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