MILWAUKEE – Ryan Ludwick entered the 2008 season not quite knowing what to expect. After spending the entire 2006 season in the minors before being picked up by the Cardinals in 2007, Ludwick simply wanted a chance. Now, he is arguably the hottest hitter in the Redbirds’ lineup filled with names that might be confused for a minor league roster.

 

“I’m just building on last year,” Ludwick told MLB.com. “I got the most at-bats I had ever gotten at this level last year and felt like I was starting to get the hang of it and I just came into this year trying to get good pitches to hit and put good swings on the ball and hit the ball hard. After that, you can’t control what happens, and fortunately for me, I’ve hit some balls hard that have found some holes and things have been going well thus far.”

 

That was two weeks ago.

 

In his last four games, Ludwick is  9-13 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI, 2 doubles, has scored 4 runs, and only struck out three times.

 

He currently leads the team in home runs (7), triples (2) and slugging percentage (.758), and is second in doubles (11), batting average (.363), total bases (69), and RBI (21). Six of his seven homers have come on the road, as well as 14 RBI, and holds a .927 slugging percentage and .390 average away from Busch Stadium.

 

“In the Minor Leagues, I’ve had stretches where I’ve been just as locked in,” he told MLB.com. “But you know, I was really confident coming into this year. I was working in the offseason, trying to shorten my swing a little bit. Just having a little bit of success I had last year build a lot of confidence in me as a player. I’d done it at every level. I hadn’t done it here before, but once you get that confidence, it makes it a little easier on yourself to know you have the ability to do it.”

 

Ludwick takes his red-hot bat to Milwaukee tonight for the first of a four-game series against the struggling Brewers. The Cardinals are winners of nine of their last 15 games and sit in first place two games ahead of Chicago. The Brewers on the other hand enter the series riding a six-game losing streak and have dropped to fourth place in the NL Central.

 

Ludwick has played in four of the team’s five games against the Brewers this season and is 5-12 with one homer.

 

The Cardinals can stay at the top of the division by at least splitting this weekend’s series assuming the Cubs continue their woes as they play their next three games against the streaking Arizona Diamondbacks.

 

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