CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant thinks he is locked in at the plate at the moment — and it shows.
Bryant hit a tiebreaking three-run homer with two out in the ninth inning, lifting the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.
With runners on the corners, Bryant drove a 1-2 pitch from Adam Conley (1-4) through a strong wind and into the bleachers in left-center for his third career game-ending drive.
It was Bryant’s fifth homer in his last 10 games and No. 6 on the year. The 2016 NL MVP was bothered by an inflamed left shoulder last season and had just 13 homers in 102 games. His previous low was 26 as a rookie in 2015.
“We’ve all been through injury and struggled,” Cubs ace Jon Lester said. “You learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about your teammates. It’s just good to see him in a good spot right now.”
Albert Almora Jr. also connected as the Cubs won for the eighth time in nine games. Steve Cishek (1-1) worked a scoreless ninth for the victory.
Martin Prado had two hits and drove in a run for Miami, which rallied for a 6-5 victory in the series opener Monday night. Jorge Alfaro had an RBI single.
Jason Heyward opened the Chicago ninth with a walk, and Kyle Schwarber was hit by a pitch. After pinch hitter Daniel Descalso advanced the runners with a sacrifice, Almora hit a grounder to Miguel Rojas with the infield in, and the shortstop fired to Alfaro to get Heyward at the plate.
Bryant then went deep for the third consecutive game for the first time in his career.
“I knew it was just a matter of time before my work showed up in the games,” he said.
Miami wasted a terrific start by Caleb Smith, who struck out a career-high 11 in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits.
“Caleb was good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Honestly, just getting through this cold weather thing for him ... he’s had trouble in weather, and it was good to see him come out and pitch like that.”
Lester yielded two unearned runs and eight hits in six innings. He worked out of jams in the fifth and sixth to keep the score tied.
In the fifth, Curtis Granderson reached third with none out on a double and an error, but was stranded there. In the sixth, Lester struck out Isaac Galloway and retired Smith on a comebacker to leave runners on first and second.
Chicago jumped in front in the first on a chilly night at Wrigley Field. Bryant reached on a wind-aided triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Javier Baez.
Miami responded with two unearned runs in the third. Granderson led off with a liner to left that Schwarber misplayed into a two-base error. Prado followed with an RBI double to right-center and scored one out later on a single by Alfaro.
Almora’s leadoff homer in the bottom half tied it at 2.
“It was a cold one,” Bryant said. “I, obviously, didn’t want to play extra innings.”
Marlins right fielder Brian Anderson came up empty on a diving attempt on Baez’s liner leading off the sixth — the ball hit off his glove — but Anderson scrambled to his feet, picked up the ball and fired a strike to Rojas to nail Baez at second base.
After being called out, Baez pointed at Anderson.
Cubs: OF/INF Ben Zobrist was a late scratch because of personal reasons. ... Descalso (sore left ankle) was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game. ... LHP Mike Montgomery (lat strain) is about ready to be activated, but the team hasn’t decided which reliever he’ll replace on the active roster. “We have ideas, but we’re just not ready to put them in motion yet,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Monty, if he’s throwing well, he’s been a big part of our group and we’ve got to figure this out soon.”
Miami righty Jose Urena (1-5, 5.45 ERA) faces righty Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 3.93 ERA) in the third game of the four-game series Wednesday night. Urena has struggled this season and allowed five runs in six innings against Atlanta in his last outing. Hendricks is coming off an 81-pitch shutout against St. Louis on Friday.