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Bryant homers twice to lead Cubs

CHICAGO — So much for that little slump for Kris Bryant. One big swing against Clayton Kershaw's vaunted curveball was enough to get the rookie back on track.

Bryant connected twice for his first career multihomer game, and the Chicago Cubs beat Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 on Monday night.

"He's been struggling a bit lately, K.B. has," manager Joe Maddon said, "and I just love the fact that he continues to battle."

Bryant had just one hit in last 18 at-bats before he drove a 1-2 curveball from Kershaw over the wall in right for a two-run homer in the third. His two-out drive on an elevated fastball from Adam Liberatore in the eighth was his 10th of the season and led to a curtain call for the slugger.

"It's a game of peaks and valleys and I was on a valley," Bryant said. "I just went into the game telling myself I'm due, I'm due for a big game, and I got it."

Matt Szczur also had a solo shot against Kershaw as Chicago (38-30) moved eight games over .500 for the first time since it was 82-74 in 2009, according to STATS. It was the first homer of the season for Szczur, who was promoted from Triple-A Iowa before the game for his fourth major league stint of the year.

"It was a good game all around," Bryant said.

The two homers off Kershaw (5-5) ran his total for the year to 11, two more than he allowed all of last season. The reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out nine in seven innings, ending a string of three consecutive starts with double-digit strikeouts.

"A couple pitches here or there. Just wish they were doubles instead of homers, but it happens sometimes," Kershaw said. "You could say you can live with the solo homers, but a two-run homer with two outs and two strikes is tough there."

The Cubs got solid work from five relievers after Tsuyoshi Wada departed in the third due to cramping in the back of his left arm. Center fielder Dexter Fowler was replaced in the fifth after he sprained his left ankle.

Travis Wood (4-3) pitched 3 1-3 innings for the win. Jason Motte allowed Joc Pederson's 19th homer in the ninth before finishing for his second save on his 33rd birthday.

Los Angeles (39-32) finished with five hits in the opener of a 10-game road trip. The NL West leaders have dropped three of four.


SEATTLE (AP) — Joe Blanton pitched six-plus innings of two-hit ball, Alcides Escobar had three hits and the Kansas City Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 4-1 on Monday night.

Blanton (2-0) struck out seven and worked into the seventh inning before being lifted after allowing a leadoff double.

Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland all pitched one inning of relief. Holland earned his 14th save in 15 opportunities.

Felix Hernandez (10-4) took the loss after allowing four runs, nine hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

Escobar had three singles, drove in a run and scored a run. Mike Moustakas had two hits including an RBI double.


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Albert Pujols homered twice and Erick Aybar scored the go-ahead run on a safety squeeze by Daniel Robertson in the eighth inning, leading Los Angeles to a victory over Houston.

The Angels (36-35) moved within 4 1/2 games of first-place Houston in the AL West. Texas is three games behind the Astros, who have dropped three of four after winning five straight.

Aybar began the winning rally with a leadoff single against Chad Qualls (1-4) and advanced on a wild pitch. One out later, Joe Thatcher walked pinch-hitter Matt Joyce while Aybar stole third.

In came Will Harris, and Robertson bunted up the first base line. Chris Carter charged the ball and made an errant, backhand flip past catcher Jason Castro as Aybar crossed the plate.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Jose Bautista hit his 15th homer during a four-run sixth inning and Toronto beat Tampa Bay.

Jose Reyes and Dioner Navarro also homered for the Blue Jays, who are 2-6 against Tampa Bay this season.

Bautista's leadoff shot against Matt Andriese (2-2) broke a 3-all tie. Reliever Ronald Belisario gave up the other three runs in the inning that included an RBI double by Chris Colabello.

Drew Hutchison (7-1) allowed three runs and nine hits over five taxing innings. He struck out six, walked two and hit a batter during a 109-pitch outing.

Down 8-5, the Rays loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Roberto Osuna struck out Steven Souza Jr. and Nick Franklin and pitched the ninth for his first save.


NEW YORK (AP) — Maikel Franco homered twice, had career highs of four hits and five RBIs and made a fabulous diving play at third base, helping Philadelphia snap a 12-game road skid with a victory over New York.

Cesar Hernandez doubled and had two RBIs and Ryan Howard had a two-run single for Philadelphia in a second straight offensive outburst against a top starter for the lowest scoring team in the major leagues. They chased Michael Pineda in the fourth inning this time and beat Michael Wacha and St. Louis 9-2 Sunday.

Ben Revere and Freddy Galvis each had three hits and everyone in the Phillies' starting lineup had at least one hit except for the struggling Chase Utley, who has lost playing time to Hernandez at second base. Philadelphia, losers of 23 of 30, had season highs for runs and hits (18).

Winners of 11 of 13 at Yankee Stadium coming in, New York was roughed up for 10 or more runs in consecutive home games for the second time this year.


CLEVELAND (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes drove in three runs, Miguel Cabrera reached base four times and Detroit continued to push Cleveland around.

Cespedes hit an RBI double off Trevor Bauer (6-4) in the first inning, homered in the third and added a sacrifice fly in Detroit's four-run fourth as the Tigers improved to 8-2 against the Indians this season and 34-14 since the start of 2013.

Detroit has won 15 of the last 18 against Cleveland.

Cabrera walked twice, once with the bases loaded, singled twice and remained a mystery to Cleveland pitchers. He's batting .649 (24 of 37) with five homers and 16 RBIs against the Indians this year.

Victor Martinez followed the fourth-inning walk to Cabrera with a two-run single to make it 6-3.

Blaine Hardy (3-1) replaced starter Kyle Ryan in the fourth and pitched 2 1-3 hitless innings.


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kennys Vargas went 4 for 4 with a three-run homer and four RBIs, rookie Byron Buxton had three hits in his first time batting leadoff in the majors, and Minnesota trounced Chicago.

Joe Mauer homered to start a five-run fourth against starter John Danks (3-8), and Eduardo Nunez punctuated the inning with a two-out, two-run shot. The rally was fueled by a throwing error on shortstop Alexei Ramirez, whose attempt to start a double play sailed into right field.

Brian Dozier added a two-run homer in the eighth for the Twins, who are 8-3 against the White Sox this season while outscoring them 70-28.

Chicago's Kris Bryant smiles as he swings through a two-run home run off Los Angeles starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw during the third inning Monday. AP PHOTO