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Thomas belts career home run No. 498

Thomas belts career home run No. 498

TORONTO -- Frank Thomas is ready to put the quest for 500 home runs behind him. Toronto's designated hitter took another step toward doing just that on Saturday, when he pulled within two blasts of reaching the celebrated benchmark.

In the first inning against Colorado, Thomas lifted a 1-2 offering from right-hander Aaron Cook deep to left field for a two-run homer -- the 498th shot of the slugger's career. Thomas hopes it won't take much longer to add the pair of homers that will make him the 21st player in baseball history to trot around the bases at least 500 times.

"It's a milestone that I want to pass so I can get on with my season," Thomas said. "We still have a lot of games. If I can get in the right rhythm, I can still have a very good season. I just have to make the best of my days."

Thomas had one of his better days in recent memory against the Rockies, pounding out four hits to go with four RBIs in an 11-6 victory for Toronto. It marked the first time that Thomas had collected a quartet of hits since May 20, 2004, when the 39-year-old veteran was a member of the White Sox.

The home run against Cook, who became the 323rd pitcher to be victimized by a Big Hurt blast, extended Thomas' recent hot streak at the plate. During the Blue Jays' past eight games, he has hit .357 (10-for-28) with three home runs and 11 RBIs. As far as Thomas is concerned, getting multiple hits has been more important than the homers.

"I'm just happy to be able to get a day where I can get more than one hit," Thomas said. "The home runs will take care of itself. I was known, early in my career, for hitting the ball hard. That's what I got accomplished today.

"I'm really happy to have a day like that, because you start doubting yourself every now and then. It's been a struggle this season."

Saturday's performance upped Thomas' season average to .242, and gave him 11 home runs with 33 RBIs. That production is lower than the Blue Jays hoped for when they signed the 18-year veteran to a two-year contract worth $18 million in November.

Then again, the offensive woes aren't much different than the struggles Thomas experienced early on last year with Oakland. Through June 23, 2006, Thomas was batting .239 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs for the A's. He finished with a .270 average, 39 homers and 114 RBIs.

"Every year is different challenges at the plate," Thomas said. "Hopefully, I can work these things out and just get on with my season. ... It just felt good today to hit the ball hard all day. My whole career, that's what I've really wanted to do on a day-to-day basis, is hit the ball hard."

Looking beyond 500 home runs, Thomas currently sits six homers shy of tying Hall of Famer Eddie Murrary for 20th on the all-time list with 504 blasts. Last Sunday, Thomas connected for his 244th career homer as a DH, which established a new record for his position. The mark was previously held by Edgar Martinez, who had 243 home runs as Seattle's DH from 1987-2004.

Jordan Bastian 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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