ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Even after getting a home run, single and
double in his first three at-bats, Mark Grudzielanek wasn't
thinking about hitting for the cycle until teammate Albert Pujols
began rooting him on.
"He was saying 'You've got to do it, you've got to do it,
you've got to go for it," Grudzielanek said after helping the St.
Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-3 on Wednesday. "I
didn't think the opportunity would come, but it sure did. It's
weird how it happens."Grudzielanek became the first Cardinals player to hit for the
cycle in nine seasons and Chris Carpenter equaled his career best
with 12 strikeouts for St. Louis, which has won 11 of 12.Jim Edmonds had two RBI for the Cardinals, who at 14-5 are off
to their best start since the 1968 team opened with that record.
The first four in the batting order were 7-for-9 in the first four
innings against Victor Santos (1-1) while building a 5-0 lead.The Cardinals won their fifth straight over the Brewers, with
their current streak beginning with a three-game sweep at Milwaukee
April 15-17. It was the first game for St. Louis since closer Jason
Isringhausen, who's 7-for-7 in save opportunities, went on the
15-day disabled list with a strained right abdomen muscle."The Cards have had success against everybody this year, not
just us," the Brewers' Geoff Jenkins said. "You have to be on top
of your game."Julian Tavarez, who entered the season with 17 career saves --
four last year, struck out the side in the ninth for his first
save. But he made it clear he's just holding the job for
Isringhausen."I know I can't get too comfortable out there," Tavares said.
"It belongs to the big man, Jason, one of the best closers in the
game. And I hope he can come back soon."Grudzielanek, batting in the No. 1 spot for the second time this
year, hit the second leadoff homer of his career to kick-start a
three-run first. He singled and scored in the second, had an RBI
double in the fourth and tripled off Jorge De La Rosa in the sixth.Grudzielanek might have been the least likely Cardinals player
to hit for the cycle: He entered Wednesday's game with just two
triples in 1,333 at-bats over the past four seasons.Grudzielanek, who grounded out in the eighth to wrap up a
4-for-5 day, is the first Cardinals player to hit for the cycle
since John Mabry on May 18, 1996, at Colorado. Daryle Ward of the
Pirates was the last to do it at Busch Stadium on May 26, 2004.The first three hits came off Santos, against whom he's
10-for-19 for his career."I've hit him well in the past and was just trying to have the
same approach," Grudzielanek said. "I must have been feeling
pretty good at the times I've faced him. The next time I see him,
he could own me."Santos said Grudzielanek had an "unbelievable day.""It seemed like everything I threw to him, he was right on
it," Santos said. "As soon as I made a mistake, boom, he was
right on it."Carpenter (4-1) beat the Brewers for the second time in three
starts, allowing three runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings and
tying his career high for strikeouts set Sept. 4, 2001, against the
Yankees. Pitching on his 30th birthday he struck out the side in
the first, fanned Jeff Cirillo three times and walked none."Mixing them up and pitching, that's the name of the game,"
Carpenter said. "No matter how hard you throw or what you do, if
you execute pitches down in the zone on both sides of the plate and
keep them off balance, you're going to have success."Santos was shaky in his first start since throwing his first
career complete game in a victory over the Giants, giving up five
runs on seven hits in four innings. The first five batters reached
in the first against him.Russell Branyan hit a two-run home run in the sixth and Chad
Moeller had an RBI single in the fifth for Milwaukee.
Cardinals pitchers had 16 strikeouts. ... Grudzielanek is
only the third Cardinals player to hit for the cycle at 40-year-old
Busch Stadium, which is being demolished after this season. The
others were Ray Lankford on Sept. 15, 1991, against the Mets and
Lou Brock on May 27, 1975, against the Padres. ... So Taguchi's
steal in the fifth was only the fourth attempt -- a major league low
-- for the Cardinals. They've been successful three times. ... Wes
Obermueller, whose double on Tuesday was the first of the season by
a Brewers pitcher, grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
... Pujols was 2-for-3 with an RBI and is batting .438 (14-for-32)
during an eight-game hitting streak.