Bryant makes himself at home in San Diego

Cubs' top prospect belts two-run blast in first inning of series finale

Bryant makes himself at home in San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- Kris Bryant didn't play at Petco Park during his three years at the University of San Diego, but the Cubs' top prospect looked right at home Thursday night when he hit his fifth home run of the season.

"I'm glad [Bryant] was able to come through for the hometown crowd -- that was nice," manager Joe Maddon said after his club's 3-0 win vs. the Padres.

Bryant launched an 0-1 curve from Odrisamer Despaigne to straightaway center in the first inning to drive in Dexter Fowler, who had walked, and open a 2-0 lead. Not that he was feeling any pressure, but Bryant didn't want to disappoint family and friends.

Bryant's barehanded play

"That's what [assistant hitting coach Eric] Hinske was telling me -- 'You don't leave San Diego without a home run,'" Bryant said.

The blast helped Bryant extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He's now homered five times in his last 39 at-bats after beginning his big league career without one in 73 at-bats.

"I finally got a hanging curve," Bryant said. "I like to hit those. Those are usually easy to get in the air, and I saw that coming. I wanted to put it in the air."

Other Major League teams will probably note that. Bryant now is hitting .317 (19-for-60) in his last 17 games with one double, one triple, five homers, 14 runs scored and 17 RBIs. He leads the Cubs in RBIs for the season with 27.

A. Russell's solo home run

Addison Russell also homered to back Kyle Hendricks. In Hendricks' second Cactus League outing this spring, Bryant bashed two home runs.

"Once he hit that one, I was all right," Hendricks said. "I felt comfortable from there. I thought, 'OK, it's going to be one of those days.'"

The kids can play.

"I definitely think we're going in the right direction," Bryant said of the young Cubs. "We had some good at-bats. I definitely think there are better days to come, and we're all excited for that."

Bryant's parents, Mike and Susie, were at the ballpark to watch, along with the player's agent, Scott Boras.

Bryant starred at USD for three seasons, and he was the second player taken overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

"This is a special place for me," Bryant said of San Diego. "I have a lot of friends here, a lot of coaches, and I care about them. It's fun to play in front of them again."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.