Ludwick not getting caught up in streak

Ludwick's homer ties club record

ST. LOUIS -- On Wednesday, Ryan Ludwick made history. Come Thursday, he has a chance to be among select company.

Himself.

After Ludwick pulverized his 29th home run to left field off Dodgers starter Derek Lowe, the shot carried a great deal of significance as he became just the fifth person in franchise history to hit a home run in five straight games. Teammate Albert Pujols is among the names on that list.

"I don't really think about that kind of stuff," Ludwick said. "It's cool, it's kind of neat to be in the same company as a guy like him. I just try and take good at-bats. I probably sound like a broken record, but that's just the way it's been all year."

Since the All-Star break, as Ludwick began to heat up to ferocious temperatures, the diction shortened as he kept repeating what has been working for him of late -- just growing as a hitter.

In his second full season in the Majors, Ludwick is having more than just his coming out party -- he's having his ball and everyone in St. Louis apparently is invited for the ride. Ludwick is batting .383 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs since the second half of the season began.

And, oh by the way, he leads all of baseball in slugging percentage.

"He's getting some big hits for us and it's really exciting to see his story," said Pujols. "He knows that probably would have been his last chance last year to get to the ball club and he obviously proved that he belongs at this level."

Ludwick, 30, has endured a long road to reach the point he currently resides. Throughout his young career, Ludwick battled injuries, but never lost sight of playing at a high level in the Major Leagues.

"Coming in this year, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think I could hit 25-plus at this level," Ludwick said. "That's a confidence issue. You have a little bit of success at one level, there's always growing pains you learn from and this year I came in with an extreme amount of confidence."

Citing hard work in the offseason, Ludwick has slowly transformed into one of more feared power hitters in the game. As pitchers have begun to adjust to him, he upped the ante to become more prepared for them.

Ludwick, who is also his own harshest critic, would rather point out the mistakes that he makes than relish the moment of setting history.

"Once again, tonight, I had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs," Ludwick said. "I hit a weak ground ball to the first baseman and didn't get the job done with Albert on third. There's always room for improvement."

On Wednesday, that hard work paid off. Pujols was the latest hitter to accomplish the feat, belting five home runs between Aug. 17-22, 2007 while Jim Edmonds also did it from July 6-11, 2004. Jim Bottomley and Ripper Collins also accomplished the feat -- in 1929 and 1935, respectively

"I had never really proven to myself that I could play at this level until last year," Ludwick said. "At-bats last year were a little different than this year -- they were more sparing, I had a lot of pinch-hit roles and I was more of a fourth outfielder.

"Now, the approach seems to be more consistent and I really feel like when I get down in the count now, I grind out at-bats more than I used to. But I think that's about becoming an older, more mature hitter. You never stop learning in this game."

Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.