Cruz nearly motors for cycle, but out at third
Orioles slugger enjoys first five-hit game, including 27th home run
BOSTON -- Nelson Cruz fell just short of hitting for the cycle for the first time Saturday night, as the left fielder was tagged out trying to stretch a double into a triple in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 7-4 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"As soon as I saw it went over [right fielder Daniel Nava's] head, I was like, 'I've got to take a shot, see what happens,'" said Cruz, who was trying for his first triple since 2011, "I think my angle from first [base], it was bad. So I had to go a long ways to second."
Cruz, who set a career high with five hits, doubled in his first at-bat and singled in the third before he hit a solo shot off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the fifth. The homer, Cruz's 27th of the season, matched his total for 2013 and moved him in a first-place tie for the most in the Majors.
Cruz, who also singled in the sixth, is the first Oriole with a five-hit game in a nine-inning contest since Nick Markakis did it on July 3, 2011. His cycle attempt came off Edward Mujica, with Cruz sending a ball deep into right field and rounding the second base bag with a chance at third as Nava missed the cutoff man. But the relay from shortstop Stephen Drew got there just in time.
"If you can't enjoy that and take it the way you need, you're taking yourself way too seriously," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of watching Cruz try for third.
"I'm glad they didn't hit the first cutoff guy. At least it was close. They're all screaming at me to do the replay. Nellie's always screaming, 'Go, go, go' every time there's a ball in the dirt with somebody on base, just kiddingly. We tell them all the time, 'You feel something, go for it.' He had a great night. Gosh, he had a great night."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.