MILWAUKEE (AP) — Christian Yelich cycled his way into the record book.
Milwaukee’s streaking slugger became the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle twice in one season against the same team, driving in four runs to lead the Brewers over the Cincinnati Reds 8-0 on Monday night.
“There’s been so many great players to play this game,” said Yelich, acquired in an offseason trade with Miami. “It just shows how freaky, I guess, that is. A lot of luck goes into that. It’s hard enough to get four hits in a Major League Baseball game, yet alone have them all be the right ones and the right sequence.”
Less than three weeks after his cycle in Cincinnati, Yelich accomplished the feat against the last-place Reds once again to help the Brewers in their playoff pursuit. Milwaukee remained 2½ games behind the first-place Cubs in the NL Central and three games up in the wild-card race. Chicago won 5-1 at Arizona.
Yelich singled in the first inning, doubled in the second, launched a two-run homer in the fifth and completed the cycle when he added a two-run triple in the sixth. With the Brewers nursing a large lead, he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
“I honestly don’t even know how to describe it,” Yelich said. “I don’t know if it’s really set in yet, but it’s definitely crazy and you try to enjoy it as much as possible. It’s nice to do it at home, too, in front of the home fans. It was a pretty exciting moment.”
Yelich’s huge second half has turned him into a top contender for the NL MVP award. He also hit for the cycle when he went 6 for 6 in a 13-12 comeback victory on Aug. 29 at Cincinnati, making him the fifth player to turn the trick twice in one season — and first in Brewers history.
“There’s no question that he’s hot right now,” Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani said. “He’s doing some amazing things. I know him from Miami. I know that he works his butt off. They all projected that he was going to be a top-of-the-league hitter. But I think if I make my pitches, I give myself a chance to get him out.”
The previous player with two cycles in one season was Aaron Hill in 2012.
Yelich put the Brewers up 4-0 in the fifth, following a walk to Curtis Granderson with his 31st homer.
Domingo Santana, who hit 30 homers last year for the Brewers but spent most of this season at Triple-A, opened the fifth with his second pinch-hit home run in two games.
Wade Miley (5-2) labored through five innings and allowed five hits. He had two runners aboard in the second, third and fourth.
Josh Hader struck out the side in the sixth, and Brandon Woodruff finished with three spotless innings for his first save.
“I didn’t say much, but I told (manager Craig) Counsell, I’m good, I can go back out,” said Miley, who has permitted two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts. “Obviously, you’ve got Hader in the bullpen, anybody will hand the ball over to Hader. Then Domingo pinch-hits and hits a homer, so I told Counsell he made the right decision.”
DeSclafani (7-6) gave up four runs and seven hits with two walks in five innings.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 8-0 in the sixth, capped by Yelich’s two-run triple to right-center.
The Brewers, who totaled three runs in losing their previous two games to Pittsburgh, took a 1-0 lead in the third. Granderson walked and Yelich lined a double to right off the glove of diving first baseman Joey Votto. Lorenzo Cain followed with a sacrifice fly.
Yelich is batting .500 (24 for 48) with seven homers, 17 RBIs and 12 runs against the Reds this season.
“We really need wins as a team,” he said. “Every win is huge for us. Obviously we didn’t finish that Pittsburgh series up like we would have hoped, and it’s best to come out tonight and get this series off to a good start.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the other players with multiple cycles in a single season were Hill for Arizona in 2012, Brooklyn’s Babe Herman in 1931, St. Louis’ Tip O’Neill in 1887 and Cincinnati’s Long John Reilly in 1883. Yelich is the third active player with multiple cycles in his career, joining Adrian Beltre (three) and Carlos Gomez (two).
Santana had 30 homers and 85 RBIs in 525 at-bats last season with Milwaukee, playing in 151 games, including 138 starts in right field. The offseason acquisitions of Yelich and Cain made for a crowded outfield. Santana never got untracked and was hitting .249 with just three homers and 17 RBIs when he was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on June 23. Since being recalled on Sept. 1, he is 6 for 13 with two homers and two doubles, all coming as a pinch-hitter.
Reds: RHP Michael Lorenzen (3-1, 3.21 ERA) will make his first start since 2015, when he made 21 starts as a rookie. His last 151 appearances have been in relief.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (9-7, 3.85) is 3-0 in three starts against the Reds this season. He’s 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 career starts vs. Cincinnati. Anderson has allowed 29 homers, tied for most in the NL.
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