CHICAGO -- In the eighth inning, during his last at-bat of Thursday's sweep-capping 9-6 win over the Brewers, the Cubs' Kris Bryant saw that the flags were still blowing out to center at Wrigley Field, a good sign for hitters. At that point, the third baseman had four hits and needed a triple to complete the first cycle by a Cubs player since Mark Grace did so in 1993.
"My last at-bat, honestly, I was thinking home run," Bryant said. "There aren't too many games when you get a chance to hit three home runs. When you see the flags going out to center, you want to take advantage of that."
Instead, Bryant smacked an RBI single to finish 5-for-5 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs.
It was Bryant's second five-hit game this year -- his first came on June 27 at Cincinnati -- and he's the first Cubs player with two five-hit games in a season since Mark DeRosa did so in 2007. This was his fourth career game with five RBIs, and third this season.
"He's a great player," Cubs starter Jake Arrieta said of Bryant. "He's been able to play a lot of different roles, especially defensively, for us, and he's one of our biggest role players. To see what he's continued to do and do what he did today is not a big surprise. [Anthony] Rizzo is a tremendous player and pretty much our MVP every year, but Kris is a special guy."
Who would win National League MVP between Rizzo and Bryant? Rizzo is batting .291 with 25 homers and 86 RBIs, while Bryant is hitting .296 with 30 homers and 78 RBIs.
"Maybe 'Bryzzo' could be named MVP," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
The two definitely feed off each other.
"He always jokes around with me, saying, 'You know, when Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, Prince Fielder was hitting behind him,'" Bryant said. "He says, 'I'm your Prince.'"
"He's won an award the last 15 years of his life," Rizzo said of Bryant, who was the Minor League Player of the Year in 2014, and the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015. "I think it would come natural [for him to win NL MVP]. If it was me, I'd have [the award] in my locker, sleep with it."
Bryant joined some elite company on Thursday. He, Rizzo, Ernie Banks, Sammy Sosa and Ron Santo all reached 30 home runs by the age of 24 or younger. Rizzo did so in 2014, Banks in 1955, Sosa in 1993 and Santo in 1964.
All Bryant wants to do is contribute to the team every day, he said.
"You really take it at-bat by at-bat," Bryant said. "It's good to start the day off with a hit -- it gets you going a little bit, gets your confidence going. You look at the scoreboard and see 3-for-3 and 4-for-4, that's one of those days that you don't have too often. For me, I don't feel like this too often, but today was one of those days when I was really locked in."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.