Grudzielanek hits for cycle
Cards second baseman accomplishes feat in six innings
ST. LOUIS -- Mark Grudzielanek hit for the cycle the hard way in the Cardinals' 6-3 win over the Brewers on Wednesday, coming up with the baseball equivalent of making an inside straight.
Needing a triple against reliever Jorge De La Rosa for one of the rarest of baseball feats, Grudzielanek sliced a base hit down the right-field line with one out in the sixth inning. The ball rolled around in the corner as Geoff Jenkins tried to make a play, and Grudzielanek motored all the way to third.
It's the first cycle of Grudzielanek's career and the 16th in Cardinals history. The last Redbird to hit for a cycle was John Mabry at Colorado on May 18, 1996. The last cycle at Busch Stadium came from the Pirates' Daryle Ward on May 26 of last year.
Grudzielanek finished the day with four hits in five at-bats. He scored three times and knocked in two runs. In the process, Grudzielanek raised his average from .271 to .313.
"I was just trying to come up there and have the same approach that I did the previous at-bats and try to hit the ball hard," said Grudzielanek, whose first three hits came against starter Victor Santos. "They changed up the pitcher there. I stayed back and it worked out. What do you say? It doesn't happen too often. It just was one of those days."
Grudzielanek led off the game for the Cards with a home run, the second leadoff homer of his career. He singled and scored in the second and doubled home a run in the fourth, all against Santos. He completed the four-play against De La Rosa in the sixth. In the process, he took away one little piece of fame from his teammate, but Mabry was rooting for him all the way.
"It's good," said Mabry. "It's good for baseball. It's one of those feats that you look back on later in your career and say it's something special that you did. You don't set out to do it. It's just one of those things.
"I was hoping for him to get it. They say it's more rare than a no-hitter. It's special."
Typically, you start thinking cycle when a player gets a triple and another base hit in the early going. The line that someone "only needs a triple for a cycle" makes about as much sense as saying he only needs 15 more outs for a no-hitter. Yet Grudzielanek came through with the hard part last.
"When he hit that triple, I didn't know what was going on," said Cards starter Chris Carpenter. "Everybody was cheering, and somebody said that he hit for the cycle. Obviously it's an amazing thing, doesn't happen very often."
The last Cardinals cycle at home was courtesy of Ray Lankford against the Mets on Sept. 15, 1991. The only other Redbird to accomplish the feat at Busch is Lou Brock, against the Padres on May 27, 1975. The last time a player hit for the cycle against Milwaukee was June 8, 2001, when Damion Easley did it for the Tigers.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.