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Jay falls homer shy of hitting for natural cycle

Cubs OF singles, doubles, triples in order; Williams last Cub to achieve feat in 1966
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Before Jon Jay stepped into the batter's box in the eighth inning against Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, who was doing double duty as a relief pitcher, the Cubs' outfielder got some encouragement from his teammates to complete the cycle.

"Everyone kind of mentioned it -- 'Take a shot, take a shot,'" Jay said of his teammates' advice for his last at-bat. "We got the win, so it's cool."

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CHICAGO -- Before Jon Jay stepped into the batter's box in the eighth inning against Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, who was doing double duty as a relief pitcher, the Cubs' outfielder got some encouragement from his teammates to complete the cycle.

"Everyone kind of mentioned it -- 'Take a shot, take a shot,'" Jay said of his teammates' advice for his last at-bat. "We got the win, so it's cool."

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Jay had singled in the first inning, doubled in the third, and hit an RBI triple in the fourth to help the Cubs post a 15-5 win over the Reds. But he missed in two at-bats to complete what would've been the 15th natural cycle.

In the sixth, Jay flied out to center, and the crowd of 40,263 at Wrigley Field cheered in anticipation of a possible home run, and then collectively sighed when Billy Hamilton caught the ball. Jay was intentionally walked in the seventh and eventually scored on Anthony Rizzo's two-run single, part of his five-RBI night.

Video: CIN@CHC: Rizzo lines a two-run single to center

The eighth was Jay's last chance, and again, he flied out to Hamilton, only this time he was facing Gennett, who was pressed into duty on the mound.

"[They razzed me] a little bit," Jay said of his teammates. "I'm not worried about that. I just stayed in my lane and was just trying to get base hits."

Video: CIN@CHC: Infielder Gennett tosses one inning vs. Cubs

In his first season with the Cubs, Jay has earned nothing but respect from his teammates for his approach.

"He grinds at-bats," Rizzo said. "He's a professional."

"He's done a lot of other little things, talking to younger players," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He does a nice job of mentoring. He wants to play, loves to play and likes what's going on. He's definitely stirred our drink."

Jay has led off 26 times, second-most on the team, tied with Ben Zobrist. When asked who would be the Cubs' leadoff batter in a crucial game in October, Maddon picked Jay, who posted his fourth game this season with at least three hits.

"I feel comfortable in every spot, just try to keep it simple," Jay said. "I've hit first, I've hit ninth, I've hit eighth. I just happen to be in the lineup and try to produce and try to be consistent."

Consistency is key, Jay said.

"I just try to be somebody who, when I go out there, they know what they're going to get, somebody who will have good at-bats and play solid defense and run the bases," Jay said. "I want to be counted on -- it's a good feeling when your teammates can count on you."

The only Cubs player to ever hit for the natural cycle was Hall of Famer Billy Williams, who did so on July 17, 1966. The last Major League player to do so was the Rangers' Gary Matthews Jr., who did so Sept. 13, 2006.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Jon Jay