Bryant homers twice, has 5 hits as Cubs sweep Brewers 9-6
CHICAGO (AP) Kris Bryant came to the plate in the eighth inning a triple shy of the cycle. The Cubs slugger was trying for a little more.
''My last at-bat I was thinking home run,'' Bryant said. ''There aren't too many games you can hit three home runs.''
Bryant settled for an RBI single to cap a 5 for 5 day with two homers, a double and five RBIs. He helped Chicago overcome a career-high seven walks by Jake Arrieta to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-6 Thursday for a four-game sweep.
''I don't feel like this too often,'' Bryant said, ''This was just one of those days when I was really locked in.''
Bryant tied Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the NL lead with 30 home runs.
And as the Cubs won for the 18th time in 21 games and improved the best record in the majors to 77-43, the only controversy in their jovial clubhouse is whether Bryant or teammate Anthony Rizzo is the better NL MVP candidate.
Two days after a circus catch of a foul ball, Rizzo doubled twice off Zach Davies (9-6). Rizzo has driven in 86 runs and Bryant 78.
''(Rizzo) always jokes around me saying when Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, Prince Fielder was hitting behind him,'' Bryant said. ''So he always tells me I'm his Prince. I can't say enough about having him behind me.''
Chicago's ace welcomed Bryant's big day with the wind blowing out. The Cubs led 5-0 when Arrieta (15-5) issued a pair of two-out walks in the fourth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a three-run homer.
Hernan Perez hit a solo homer in the sixth off Arrieta, who allowed four runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his seventh save with the Cubs.
''I put myself in a tough situation,'' Arrieta said. ''The first three (innings) were good. It kind of got away from me there, but we had a big day out of the offense.''
Bryant singled and scored in the first, hit a two-run homer in the third and had an RBI double in the fourth off Davies. Bryant hit a solo homer off Blaine Boyer in the sixth and added an RBI single in the eighth off Corey Knebel for his second career five-hit game.
Bryant, who hit 26 homers while winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, had his third multihomer game of the season.
Davies allowed a season-high seven earned runs and 10 hits in four innings.
The Brewers got left fielder Ryan Braun back after he banged up his left knee and ankle chasing a foul ball Tuesday. But Braun went 0 for 5 and couldn't come up with Addison Russell's fly that drifted to the wall and was ruled a single in Chicago's three-run third.
Milwaukee was outscored 23-8 in the series and fell to 0-6 at Wrigley Field, while Bryant helped the Cubs move 34 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 2008.
''He's one of the best hitters in the game. He can hit any pitch, any mistake,'' Davies said. ''You've got to be extremely focused on every pitch when he does to bat.''
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (quadriceps) was scheduled to play catch, two days after leaving in the first inning when he was hit by a line drive. ''If he's healthy, we'll be able to use Chase out of the bullpen for a couple days this weekend and he'll start at some point next week,'' manager Craig Counsell said.
Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said they'll decide in the next couple of days if RHP John Lackey (shoulder) will make his next scheduled start Tuesday.
CONTRERAS MOVES UP
Willson Contreras caught Arrieta for the first time. The 24-year-old rookie has moved ahead of struggling veteran Miguel Montero.
Contreras hit an RBI double in the third and picked off Ramon Flores at first in the fifth. He also had two passed balls.
Of Nieuwenhuis' 11 homers, five have come against the Cubs. The center fielder also doubled and scored in the eighth.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter will be recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs and make his major league debut Friday night at Seattle against LHP Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 4.68 ERA).
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (11-7, 2.19) starts Friday night at Colorado to begin a nine-game trip against the Rockies and LHP Tyler Anderson (4-4, 3.42). Chicago plays 18 of its next 25 on the road.