Bryant homers, knocks in 3 as surging Cubs beat Giants 8-6
CHICAGO (AP) Kris Bryant belted a long home run. Addison Russell had his second career three-hit day. Kyle Schwarber collected two more hits, and Jorge Soler extended his hitting streak to eight games.
These talented rookies on the Chicago Cubs look quite comfortable in the heat of an August playoff race.
Bryant drove in three runs, Russell had an RBI single in Chicago's three-run eighth inning, and the surging Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 8-6 on Saturday.
''We have a lot of confidence,'' Bryant said. ''I think our bats are turning it around a little bit. Our pitchers start doing what they did all year, and I mean, I think it's looking pretty bright.''
Bryant's big day powered Chicago to its third straight win and ninth in 10 games. He also walked and scored on Miguel Montero's tiebreaking single in the fifth as the Cubs opened a 2 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the chase for the second NL wild card.
Bryant's two-run shot off Matt Cain (2-3) in the third was the rookie's first homer since July 27 against Colorado. The All-Star slugger also drove in Chicago's first run when he beat out a potential double-play grounder in the first.
The 23-year-old Bryant entered with a .162 batting average in 21 games since the All-Star break.
''He is one of better young baseball players I've had. Period,'' manager Joe Maddon said.
Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer for the Giants, who have dropped three in a row and five of seven. Hunter Pence had two hits and scored twice.
Angel Pagan and Nori Aoki each had a run-scoring single in San Francisco's three-run ninth before Justin Grimm came in with a runner on first and got Matt Duffy to ground out to shortstop for his third save.
''They did a good job coming back at the end - even early in the game,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''But it comes down to pitching. Right now, our starters are struggling and it makes it tough on the `pen.''
Montero's run-scoring single was his first hit since he came off the disabled list Friday after being sidelined for almost a month by a sprained left thumb. Soler then scampered home on a double-play grounder by pitcher Kyle Hendricks (6-5), lifting Chicago to a 5-3 lead.
The Cubs (61-48) moved 13 games over .500 for the first time since they finished the 2008 season with a 97-64 record. The victory also clinched their first series win at home against the Giants since taking two of three in June 2011.
San Francisco (59-51) was hurt by an erratic outing from Cain, who set season highs with five walks and two hit batters in four-plus innings. The right-hander has allowed at least four runs in four of his last five starts.
''I'm making too many mistakes in situations where I can get myself out of it, and I've got to eliminate those,'' Cain said.
ABOUT THOSE ROOKIES
Soler is batting .375 (9 for 24) with six RBIs in seven August games. Schwarber is hitting .435 (10 for 23) this month, and Russell has five hits and three runs in the series against San Francisco.
The Cubs placed catcher David Ross on the bereavement list and recalled outfielder Matt Szczur from Triple-A Iowa. Ross could return to the team as soon as Tuesday.
Giants: C Andrew Susac (strained right thumb) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. ... RHP Mike Leake (strained left hamstring) is expected to throw off a mound Tuesday. Bochy said the club wants to be cautious with the injury, which occurred during routine conditioning during the Giants' recent series at Atlanta. ... Bochy said he plans to rest Pagan on Sunday. Pagan is dealing with soreness in his knees and played the first three games of the series.
Cubs: CF Dexter Fowler was hit on his right knee by a pitch in the second inning, sending him to the ground. He stayed in the game.
Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (12-6, 2.50 ERA) and Giants RHP Jake Peavy (2-4, 3.77) square off in the series finale. Arrieta is 6-1 with a 1.37 ERA in his last nine starts. Peavy has a string of four consecutive starts without a loss, going 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in that stretch.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap