JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — 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.
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“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.
Wada gave up a leadoff homer to Kike Hernandez and a single by A.J. Ellis before he was replaced by Wood with no outs in the third. The team said Wada had cramping in his left deltoid muscle and would be evaluated again Tuesday.
WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT
The Cubs played the game under protest after the lights at Wrigley Field flickered in the bottom of the sixth inning, prompting an odd scene when Maddon repeatedly came out of the dugout to talk to the umpires during a 10-minute delay.
“Just be a little more patient and wait for the lights. That was my argument,” Maddon said. “That’s it. Nothing more complicated than that. I just thought it was inappropriate.”
With one out and Kershaw pitching to Bryant, a handful of lights in several banks went out at the ballpark. Maddon had multiple discussions with the umpires before play resumed, and all the lights appeared to be back on shortly after the game started again.
“We felt that we would be able to continue playing, that it was sufficient lighting,” crew chief Jerry Meals said. “Out of the six banks, none were out. There was scattered lights out.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was frustrated with the length of the delay with Kershaw on the mound.
“I’m not quite sure what Joe’s arguing,” Mattingly said. “But at that point, once they make that decision that’s when you’d like to get on with it from the standpoint of letting a guy stand out there for 10 minutes.”
Dodgers: RHP Joel Peralta (shoulder soreness) was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game. He pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings over seven April appearances, going 1-0 with three saves in three chances.
Cubs: RHP Neil Ramirez (shoulder inflammation) and INF Mike Olt (broken right wrist) will take their injury rehab stints to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday. … LHP Zac Rosscup (shoulder inflammation) plans to throw on Tuesday and get re-evaluated. “As of now, I think I’m headed to Arizona Wednesday to kind of get things cranking again,” he said. … Maddon said OF Jorge Soler (left ankle sprain) is at least a week away from beginning a rehab stint.
Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke (5-2, 1.81 ERA) tries for his first win since May 5 when he takes on RHP Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.89 ERA) on Tuesday night. Greinke is 0-2 in his last eight starts despite a 1.99 ERA in the winless stretch. Hammel is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in four June starts.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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