Bryant cheered in Wrigley return, Giants win 5th in row

Kris Bryant

San Francisco Giants’ Kris Bryant greets Chicago Cubs fans before a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant drew a pair of standing ovations in his return to Wrigley Field, then Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt homered in the seventh inning to send the San Francisco Giants over the Chicago Cubs 6-1 Friday for their fifth straight win.

The Giants, who entered 2 ½ games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, improved to a major league-best 91-50.

It was 1-all when Longoria hit a two-run homer that put San Francisco ahead. Belt connected for a two-run drive later in the inning.

While all eyes were on Bryant in this one, Belt has been fueling the Giants during their most recent surge.

The 33-year-old first baseman added a double and two walks, giving him eight hits in 17 at-bats his last four games.

“I don’t know if I can get more confident than I am right now,” Belt deadpanned. “I just named myself captain.”

Belt apparently proclaimed himself captain of the club on recent flight. Longoria joking responded by taping a “C” on the front of Belt’s jersey before Friday’s game — and Belt wore it while reaching base four times.

“I wasn’t going to wear it, but everybody thought that I should,” Belt said.

Not only is Belt swinging a hot bat, Longoria is picking up the pace, too, as the Giants roll toward the finish.

“I think I’m in a pretty good spot,” Longoria said. “I think I need a few more high-leverage at-bats.”

Rookie Frank Schwindel hit a solo drive for the Cubs, giving him 12 homers and seven in the last 11 games. Chicago lost for just the second time in 10 games.

Bryant was traded to the Giants for two prospects at the July 30 deadline as the rebuilding Cubs unloaded marquee stars who were set to become free agents after this season. The 29-year-old got a standing ovation from the crowd of 29,439 during a pregame video tribute and again before his first inning at-bat.

The slugger was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, then the NL MVP in 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series to end a 108-year championship drought. In this one, Bryant went 0 for 3 with a walk, run and struck out swinging twice.

“There was a lot going on in terms of emotions,” Bryant said. “It was pretty hard to contain it all.”

“It kind of got the best of me and it was kind of hard to play baseball after that,” he said.

Longoria hit a full-count fastball from Trevor Megill (1-1) high into the bleachers in left-center for his 11th homer and first since Aug. 17. The third baseman, who returned last week from a bruised right hand, added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Belt tagged Michael Rucker for his 22nd homer, a shot to the basket in left. LaMonte Wade Jr. had two hits and an RBI.

San Francisco’s Dominic Leone opened with two perfect innings on a bullpen day, and the Giants used eight pitchers in a combined two-hitter. Camilo Doval (2-1) got the final out of the sixth for the win.

Kyle Hendricks allowed one run on four hits over six innings in a no-decision. He struck out four, walked two and was back in form after three rocky starts when he had a 10.13 ERA over 16 innings.

“It was good to see him back to being the way he normally is,” said bench coach Andy Green, who is running the team with manager David Ross out after a positive COVID-19 test. “It was good to see him be him.”

Schwindel gave the Cubs home runs in 16 straight games, one short of the team record set in 1998.

LOVE FOR KB

After watching the video tribute while standing in front of the Giants dugout, Bryant strolled to home plate for handshakes and hugs with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and other team officials.

The Cubs presented Bryant with a 2016 World Series championship pennant and a replica No. 17 panel – his uniform number in Chicago — from Wrigley Field’s vintage center-field scoreboard.

The crowd cheered again when he struck out to end the inning first inning.

Bryant told reporters he got a voicemail message from Ricketts when he was traded, but he said things were so hectic — the Cubs were in Washington — that he never returned the call.

CHAT ’EM UP

With Longoria back in the lineup at third, the versatile Bryant played left field — where he hoped to resume friendly banter with fans in the bleachers.

ROSTER MOVE

The Cubs placed LHP Adam Morgan on the bereavement list before the game and recalled RHP pitcher Tommy Nance from Triple-A Iowa.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: Manager Gabe Kapler said OF Alex Dickerson (right hamstring strain) would be sent on a rehab assignment after Friday’s game. … INF Donovan Solano (COVID-19 ) ran the bases on Friday. … Wilmer Flores (left hamstring strain) is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday.

Cubs: RHP Keegan Thompson (right shoulder inflammation) is expected to throw a bullpen session in the next few days, Green said.

UP NEXT

Giants RHP Kevin Gausman (13-5, 2.58) faces Cubs RHP Zach Davies (6-10, 5.16) on Saturday afternoon.

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