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Wilkerson recycles cycle feat

Wilkerson recycles cycle feat

PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals center fielder Brad Wilkerson hit for the cycle in a 7-3 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night. He accomplished the feat while batting from the leadoff position.

It's the second time in Wilkerson's career that he has hit for the cycle, a feat also accomplished June 24, 2003, against the Pirates at Olympic Stadium.

Wilkerson said that Wednesday's cycle was much sweeter because it helped the Nationals pick up their first victory in franchise history.

"It's a special day to get the first-ever victory in franchise history," Wilkerson said. "We came up with some big hits tonight. Everybody contributed. We pitched well and played good defense."

The last player in the organization to hit for the cycle was Vladimir Guerrero on Sept. 14, 2003, against the Mets.

Wilkerson also became the first player from a Washington team to hit for the cycle since Senators outfielder Jim King pulled the trick against the Red Sox on May 26, 1964.

On Wednesday, Wilkerson went 4-for-4 with two RBIs. In the third inning, he homered off starter Brett Myers to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. In the fifth inning, he singled to right off Myers.

"He just had a great game," Myers said. "We all tried to keep him off-balance, but he just hit everything. He had a great game."

Two innings later, Wilkerson tripled off Rheal Cormier. As he was rounding second base, Wilkerson hurt his left ankle. He said it is not serious and is expected to play on Thursday afternoon.

In the eighth, with runners on first and second, Wilkerson hit a ground-rule double off reliever Aaron Fultz to score Terrmel Sledge. Wilkerson said had the ball not gone over the fence he would have stopped at second anyway because of his injured ankle.

"I hit it good. I stayed back against the lefty. That's when I know I'm going good," Wilkerson said. "I was hoping that it didn't bounce over the fence because we would have scored two instead of one. It was unfortunate it did that."

After the game, Nationals equipment/clubhouse manager Mike Wallace gave Wilkerson the ball that went over the fence for the double.

"If nothing else, I'm going up there relaxing. I'm seeing the ball big here at night. I felt like I put up some god swings all night," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson is the seventh player in franchise history to hit for the cycle and the 26th player to have more than one cycle.

Nationals right-hander Zach Day, who started Wednesday's game against the Phillies and didn't pick up a decision, said that he is amazed that Wilkerson has hit for the cycle twice in his career.

"That was awesome. Just watching him play every day is something special," Day said.

Robinson said Wilkerson is capable of having performances like the one on Wednesday and that maybe batting leadoff is his best spot.

"People say that he hit 32 home runs last year. Why isn't he hitting in the RBI spots? He has hit in those spots, but he hasn't been as productive," Robinson said. "This is the first year that I started the season with him at the top of the lineup. Each time he has gone there, he has been productive. The leadoff position could be his spot."

After two games, Wilkerson is 5-for-9 (.556) with a home run and two RBIs.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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