Homecoming king: Bryant lifts Cubs over Mets

Homecoming king: Bryant lifts Cubs over Mets

LAS VEGAS -- Kris Bryant drove in the go-ahead run during his Vegas homecoming on Thursday, leading the Cubs to a 5-1 win over the Mets in the first of two exhibitions at Cashman Field.

A Las Vegas native who played some of his earliest ball at nearby Bonanza High School, Bryant singled home the second of the Cubs' three runs in the fifth against Mets reliever Chasen Bradford. But it wasn't the only highlight of the Chicago slugger's day. As the families and acquaintances of both players hooted and hollered, Bryant also flied out against good friend Paul Sewald -- a fellow Vegas native and former University of San Diego teammate -- in the first.

Normally a reliever, Sewald was efficient throughout three shutout innings, with Bryant's deep flyout the only threat against him. But Bradford allowed three runs on Bryant's single in the fifth, a Ben Zobrist run-scoring hit and a Trevor Cahill sacrifice bunt. That rally gave the Cubs the first and only lead they would need, after Lucas Duda briefly put the Mets ahead with an RBI single in the fourth inning. Duda finished with three hits.

"It was amazing to get to pitch so well, and get to have that kind of audience," Sewald said.

Balaguert's solo blast

The Cubs' reigning Minor League pitcher of the year, starter Ryan Williams matched Sewald with three shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out one. He will open the season at Triple-A Iowa.

Williams was hit on the lower right hamstring by Kevin Plawecki's comebacker in the third but stayed in the game to finish the inning, starting a 1-6-3 double play.

Outfielder Jorge Soler widened the Cubs' margin with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, before prospect Yasiel Balaguert launched an estimated 450-foot homer in the eighth.

"We've got to get it going a bit offensively," Mets manager Terry Collins said of a team that has not won since St. Patrick's Day. "We're going in to face a very, very good pitching staff in Kansas City, so we've got to start swinging the bats better.

Mets up next: Steven Matz will make his final spring tune-up when the Mets meet the Cubs for a 4:05 p.m. ET rematch Friday at Cashman Field in a free game live on MLB.TV. The Mets have not yet slotted Matz into their Opening Day rotation, because he will be available for multiple innings out of the bullpen Tuesday in Kansas City.

Cubs up next: Jason Hammel makes his final tune up for the regular season on Friday when the Cubs face the Mets in the series finale at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Hammel has looked sharp this spring after adjusting his offseason routine. And what will Kris Bryant do for the hometown fans? First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT and the game can be seen for free on MLB.TV and broadcast on a free exclusive webcast on Cubs.com.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.