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Moeller savors cycle in win
04/28/2004  2:30 AM ET
MILWAUKEE -- Chad Moeller hit for the cycle, but he did not get the motorcycle.

Instead, the Brewers catcher got a bottle of bubbly, a game ball and a good laugh.

Moeller became the first Major Leaguer this season to hit for the cycle -- a single, double, triple and home run -- during Tuesday's thrilling 9-8 win over the Cincinnati Reds. If it had come last year, Moeller would have rode off on his very own Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But before the season, the Milwaukee-based company discontinued their long-running promotion.

As a severely under-the-weather Moeller discussed his big night with the media, Brewers manager Ned Yost burst in with the next best thing.

"Since we lost the Harley sponsorship, here's something," Yost beamed.

"I found a bike out there, Chad!"

Yost wheeled in a Trek 3500 mountain bike and presented it to his catcher. Moeller just smiled.

"That's awesome," he said. "Safer for me, too."

Moeller, who entered the game hitless in his last six at-bats, put the Brewers on the board with a solo home run in the second inning, doubled in the fourth and hit a go-ahead, three-run triple in the fifth inning. He hit Reds reliever Ryan Wagner's first pitch up the middle in the seventh inning to complete the cycle.

Moeller became the first Major Leaguer to accomplish the feat this season and fifth player to do it in Brewers history. He joined Minnesota's Gary Ward as the only big leaguers to hit for the cycle in Milwaukee during the Brewers' 34-plus years or the Milwaukee Braves' tenure from 1953-65. Paul Molitor was the last Brewer to accomplish the feat, back on May 15, 1991.

Moeller finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs, and his only out set up the team's thrilling win. With the Brewers down two runs and Cincinnati's Danny Graves one out away from his 11th save of the young season, Moeller hit what should have been a game-ending groundout.

But Reds third baseman Brandon Larson botched the throw as Helms scored. Moeller, battling the shivers from a serious case of the flu, was replaced by pinch-runner Trent Durrington before pinch-hitter Bill Hall delivered a game-winning home run.

How much luster would a loss have stripped from Moeller's big night?

"All of it," Yost said. "Going into the ninth inning, I wanted to win the game as much for Chad as anything else. That's a huge accomplishment, but you can't celebrate it like it needs to be celebrated when you lose."

After they won, the Brewers celebrated. Moeller arrived at his locker and found a bottle of Dom Perignon on ice, sitting next to four champagne flutes and the game ball.

"It doesn't matter a whole lot what I do at the plate if we lose the game," Moeller said. "It's very cool to be part of."

Four Brewers had hit for the cycle on the road, including Hall of Famers Paul Molitor (May 15, 1991, at Minnesota) and Robin Yount (June 12, 1988, at Chicago). Charlie Moore touched 'em all on Oct. 1, 1980, at California and Mike Hegan was the first Brewer to do it, on Sept. 3, 1976.

Moeller played under Molitor with the Twins and under Yount with the Diamondbacks, and called it "pretty darn cool to be in that company."

"I'm not even in the same zip code as those guys, but for this one, little, silly stat I am," Moeller said.

Outfielder Brady Clark came close last season, missing the cycle by a single last Sept. 3 against -- ironically -- the Reds.

"That's the first cycle I've ever seen," said Clark. "I was thinking after he did it, 'It would be even greater if we could pull out this win.' I'm sure he was thinking the same thing."

For much of the game, Moeller was just trying to stay on his feet. He said he had been waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, and huddled next to a heater in the tunnel adjoining the dugout when he was not on the field. He changed his sweat-soaked undershirt several times.

"I was hoping I didn't fall down out there," Moeller said. "It started on Sunday. My whole focus today was 'Get through nine innings.'"

He did that, and much more. Moeller's home run was his second of the season and the triple, which bounced high off the right field wall, was the fourth of his career. His first three hits came off Cincinnati starter Cory Lidle and put Brewers starter Doug Davis in line for a win, but the Reds reclaimed the lead in a four-run sixth inning.

Moeller's four-hit performance upped his batting average 67 points, to .267.

"At this point I was thinking about getting a hit and not striking out up there," said Moeller, who was 2-for-11 in the first six games of the homestand. "I was scuffling a little bit."

"We went back and looked at some tapes and tried to make little adjustments," hitting coach Butch Wynegar said. "It's nice to see him come back like that."

The Brewers got it back in the ninth, thanks in part to Moeller, and to Larson, whose error gave the Brewers a second wind.

"That would have been really disappointing to have a big day [in a loss]," Moeller said. "All you really remember is how the day finishes."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.