ST. LOUIS -- Kristopher Bryant spent Friday watching golf with his dad, Mike, who came to town to celebrate Father's Day. They may want to do that again on Saturday.Bryant slugged a two-run homer with one out in the third inning off the Cardinals' Michael Wacha on Friday night for
ST. LOUIS -- Kristopher Bryant spent Friday watching golf with his dad, Mike, who came to town to celebrate Father's Day. They may want to do that again on Saturday.
Bryant slugged a two-run homer with one out in the third inning off the Cardinals' Michael Wacha on Friday night for his first home run since May 14 in the Cubs' 13-5 win. The blast ended his homerless streak at a career-high 24 games; he drove in two more runs, on an RBI single in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the seventh for a season-high four RBIs.
Bryant wasn't the only homer-happy Cub. Kyle Schwarber launched a monster three-run shot in the fifth, and Ian Happ set up Bryant's homer with a leadoff homer in the third. Schwarber's homer was his 12th of the season and first since June 1. It also was his fourth homer with an exit velocity of 110 mph this season.
"Obviously, the home run was instrumental, but we did other things, too," manager Joe Maddon said. "I think we played a complete game offensively tonight. That's what we're striving to do. I want homers, I want singles, I want movement of runners, I want good bunts, I want playing offense. We did it tonight, and you have to do that against a really good pitcher like [Wacha]."
The Cubs don't feel Bryant is pressing, although he was given Wednesday and Thursday off -- what Maddon likes to call "spa days" -- and began the night 0-for-16 before striking out in his first at-bat on Friday.
"He's the least of our concerns," general manager Jed Hoyer said prior to Friday's game. "He's so steady that when he does go through a slump, we all react because we're not used to it. I think mentally he's pretty even-keeled. He has his moments of frustration. He'll get back to where he normally is. To me that's a good thing -- we're due for some pretty good hot streaks from some guys."
Maddon inserted Bryant back in the No. 2 spot simply because he's done it before.
"I know there's going to be plenty more times in my career when [I have a homerless streak], and it's all part of the journey," Bryant said. "As much as we hate it as players, everybody goes through it at some point in their careers. It's nothing new to me. On the surface it might look like everything has been peachy and pretty easy for me, but it never felt easy."
Cubs starter Jonathan Lester, who picked up the win, tried to reassure everyone that Bryant will be fine.
"I think any time you have a guy like that who has such high expectations of not only himself but other people outside of the baseball world, I think he feels that," Lester said. "He feels pressure from his teammates, he feels pressure from himself. He wants to perform and do well every night, and when he doesn't, it seems like it keeps adding on, and that rock on his back gets a little bigger every time. I felt he had some really good at-bats tonight."
But Lester also made a point of telling Bryant how much he appreciated a defensive play in the second inning, when Bryant stopped a ball hit by Luke Voit. Bryant was charged with an error, but still he kept the ball in front of him and the Cardinals had runners at first and second, not second and third.
"He'll be fine swinging the bat," Lester said. "That's why we all have baseball cards. At the end of the year, he'll probably have 30 [homers] and 100 [RBIs]. I don't think anyone is too worried about it."
The key to getting Bryant back on track?
"Rest. Rest," Maddon said. "Rest in this game cures everything. Rest."
It also helps to see his family.
"It's just nice to have [my dad] around and my mom, too," Bryant said.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.