Peralta picks up 1,500th career hit

Peralta picks up 1,500th career hit

MILWAUKEE -- Woven into the Cardinals' 9-1 win over the Brewers on Sunday was a pair of milestones for shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

He collected his 1,500th career hit with a single in the fourth inning, and then became the team's first player to reach 20 homers this season with a ninth-inning blast. Every home run Peralta hits over these final few weeks merely pads the franchise record for single-season homers by a shortstop that he already holds.

Peralta noted afterward that he was unaware of the significance of his broken-bat single to left until those in the dugout started calling for the ball. He was, however, aware of what the home run meant, as it gave him a 20-homer season for the fifth time in his career -- and the first time since 2011.

"I don't try to worry about how many home runs I hit," Peralta said, "but it's important for me to show people I can do it."

He was alluding to the questions that surrounded his offseason signing with the Cardinals, after a 2013 season in which he served a 50-game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic. St. Louis, nevertheless, offered Peralta a four-year, $53 million contract, as the organization sought improved production at shortstop.

The Cardinals have gotten more than they hoped for. Defensively, he has been one of the soundest in the league at his position. On the other end, Peralta leads the club in extra-base hits (55) and has pulled his average up from .251 at the start of August to .268 by the end of Sunday's game. He opened the season batting seventh, but has found a recent fit hitting anywhere from third to fifth.

"The home runs were coming from the beginning, but I know my average at the beginning was kind of low," Peralta said. "I feel pretty good."

Of Peralta's now 1,501 career hits, 132 have come with the Cardinals. Peralta tallied the first 906 hits of his career with the Indians, who signed the shortstop out of the Dominican Republic in 1999 and then featured him on their Major League club for parts of eight seasons. His single-season high in hits came with Cleveland in 2008, when he had 167.

"I feel really happy because that's a lot of hits," Peralta said. "... I don't know how a guy can [get 3,000 hits], because I feel like it's taken a long time [for this]."

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