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Grichuk not slowed by facing Sox ace Sale

ST. LOUIS -- While the rest of the Cardinals' offense spent the night tied up by White Sox starter Chris Sale and swinging through a high percentage of his pitches, Randal Grichuk went up for each at-bat feeling like he had the advantage.

And apparently he did, as half of the six hits Sale scattered over his eight-inning start in Chicago's 2-1 win over the Cards on Thursday came off Grichuk's bat. Among them was a towering 448-foot homer that came to rest in the Big Mac Land section in left field. It was the longest home run hit by a Cardinals player at Busch Stadium this season.

"I felt pretty comfortable up there," Grichuk said after his first time facing Sale. "He blew it by me the first [at-bat], but ... I went into the dugout and still felt comfortable about the at-bat even though he did K me up. I went into the other at-bats confident and put good swings on good pitches."

Grichuk's first-inning strikeout was one of 12 Sale would have on the night as he became the second pitcher in Major League history to notch 10-plus strikeouts in eight consecutive games. Grichuk wouldn't be his victim again, though. The outfielder homered in his fourth-inning at-bat, doubled two innings later and capped his night with a single in the eighth.

"When he feels good at the plate and the ball jumps, he has the potential to do damage every time he walks up there," manager Mike Matheny said. "He doesn't need to try to do too much. The ball jumps for him."

Grichuk led the Cardinals with five home runs, 13 extra-base hits and 17 runs scored over the month of June. He was thrust into an everyday role after Matt Holliday suffered a quad injury on June 8, and he has hit .317 with 11 RBIs since. The production will likely lead the Cardinals to find continued playing time for Grichuk even once Holliday returns next month.

The club can do so by shifting Grichuk over to center, where the Cards have gotten limited production from Jon Jay. Since coming off the disabled list in late May, Jay has hit .185/.280/.262 and driven in just four runs.

Grichuk, in contrast, wasn't slowed by his own month-long stint on the DL. With another pair of extra-base hits on Tuesday, he now has 24 on the season. Those account for 57 percent of his total hits, the highest percentage in baseball among players with at least 20 extra-base hits.

"I have some at-bats where I have some hiccups," Grichuk said, "but I've felt, in total, that I've been putting together some good at-bats lately."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for
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