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Valent hits for cycle in Montreal
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07/29/2004 3:37 PM ET
Valent hits for cycle in Montreal
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Eric Valent slides into third base with a triple, completing the cycle. (Francois Roy/AP)
• Players to hit for the cycle in Major League history
• Eric Valent hits for the cycle:  56K | 350K

MONTREAL -- Eric Valent had little doubt when the ball left his bat in the seventh inning on Thursday afternoon at Olympic Stadium. He saw where the ball was heading and knew he would eventually wind up on third base, completing what would be a career day for the backup outfielder.

Valent motored into third base after rocketing that ball into the right-field corner, the proud owner of a triple that completed the first cycle of his career and the eighth in Mets history. It marked the first cycle for a Met since John Olerud turned the trick on Sept. 11, 1997, against the Expos at Shea Stadium.

It was also the third time a player has ever hit for the cycle against the Expos and the second this year. Valent became the fourth Major Leaguer to hit for the cycle this season, joining Philadelphia's David Bell (June 29 against Montreal), Pittsburgh's Daryle Ward (May 27 against St. Louis) and Milwaukee's Chad Moeller (April 27 against Cincinnati).

"It's tough to do," Valent said after New York's 10-1 victory. "You have to have a lot of luck. Now I'll have something to talk about."

There was some question as to whether official scorer Serge Rivest would credit Valent with a triple. Montreal first baseman Nick Johnson took Juan Rivera's relay throw from right field and hesitated for a second before throwing to third, which Valent reached safely with a slide ahead of the throw.

But Rivest didn't hesitate on the call and Valent had secured his place in Mets history.

 Mets who have hit for the cycle
 PlayerOpponentDate
 Jim Hickmanvs. St. Louis8/7/63
 Tommie Ageevs. St. Louis7/6/70
 Mike Phillipsat Chicago6/25/76
 Keith Hernandezat Atlanta7/4/85
 Kevin McReynoldsat St. Louis8/1/89
 Alex Ochoa at Philadelphia7/3/96
 John Olerudvs. Montreal9/11/97
 Eric Valentat Montreal7/29/04

"I just kept going when I hit it," Valent said. "We were up, but over the course of a normal game I would have picked up [third base coach] Matty [Galante]. But even Donny [Baylor] was saying before my at-bat that Matty was going to be waving me.

"A triple is probably the hardest one to come by. But when I hit the ball in the corner like that, I knew I was going to third. I just wanted to hit the ball hard. It was cool. There aren't a lot of guys who can say they hit for the cycle, no matter how long they play. It's a lot of luck."

Valent, making his first start in left field since May 30, singled in the second inning in his first at-bat, then doubled in the third inning, both hits coming off Expos starter Rocky Biddle. He then blasted a two-run homer in the fifth off Sunny Kim, a shot that banged off one of the hanging speakers at Olympic Stadium. He completed the cycle with the triple off Roy Corcoran.

"The strange thing about the cycle is that it can get lost easily," said winning pitcher Al Leiter. "But good for him. There's a guy who's a bench player, who pinch-hits here and there. He gets the opportunity to start, and it's a game he'll never forget."

Valent said it was the third time he has hit for the cycle. He did it once in the Florida State League and once while playing for UCLA against rival USC.

"Eric Valent had a heck of a day, hitting for the cycle," manager Art Howe said. "Not too many people can say they did that. That's great for him. And Wally Pipp Floyd (Cliff Floyd) took the day off."

Valent retrieved the ball he hit for the triple and was going to have it inscribed. He said he would put the ball with all the ones he has from other meaningful hits. For now, though, he said they are all just sitting in his sock drawer back home.

Kevin Czerwinski 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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