Rejuvenated Peralta ends long power drought

Rejuvenated Peralta ends long power drought

ST. LOUIS -- With a three-run blast traveling some 403 feet on Thursday night, Jhonny Peralta did more than just negate the Brewers' early advantage. He lifted a load of frustration off his own shoulders.

Peralta's power drought had been so lengthy that, after the Cardinals' 7-3 win over the Brewers on Thursday, the shortstop admitted to not knowing when he last trotted around the bases.

"It's been a while," he conceded. "I have been waiting for that one for a long time."

Fifty-four days and 165 at-bats, to be precise.

Peralta has been pushing through fatigue for several weeks now, and it has sapped him of the power he showed in the season's first half. When he hit his 16th home run on Aug. 1, Peralta was averaging a long ball every 25 at-bats. From then until now, however, he had mustered just five extra-base hits (all doubles). He went through one stretch of 83 at-bats where he didn't have one.

"I know in baseball it's up and down a lot," said Peralta, whose home run on Thursday tied the game at 3 in the fourth. "But I try not to pay attention when the bad things happen and play hard every day. I know something good can happen."

Peralta's steady nature has served him well during the stretch. Though he has, at times, looked a step slow on the field or late with his timing, Peralta has rarely let the exasperation show.

"He's pretty much the same guy all the time," manager Mike Matheny said. "There were a couple times I heard a bat slam or something down below, but not very often. I think part of the beauty of his game -- a lot like what we used to say about Carlos Beltran -- is just the consistency in how they handle success, consistency in how they handle failure. That gives them a better opportunity to be consistently successful for a long time."

Matheny has acknowledged the wear on his 33-year-old shortstop. Even though Peralta will have actually started more games last season (151) than he will this year (he's at 141 with nine left on the schedule), Peralta has felt the burden of being one of the few everyday position players not to have been knocked out by injury.

The Cardinals had to lean on Peralta during stretches in which their offense was grasping for production. He leads the team with 58 games hitting in the cleanup spot and has been in the three-hole another 61 times.

Matheny unplugged Peralta from the lineup on consecutive days during the team's last road trip, which, coupled with a connected team off-day, gave Peralta an extended opportunity to rest. Peralta said that down time "helped a lot" as he prepares for the final push.

"I think he felt better immediately," added Matheny. "We're going to have to continue to look for opportunities to maybe get him out when we can, when he needs it or feels that something is a little bit off. But he's been putting together some real good at-bats for us."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.