Homers becoming part of Cards' forte

Homers becoming part of Cards' forte

ST. LOUIS -- What was once an offense that had to peck away, one that required so many hits to produce a big inning, muscled up again on Saturday to lift the Cardinals to a 7-4 win over the Giants.

Those labor-intensive ways of recent years have been replaced by a new offensive identity that requires far fewer swings for a momentum change. Within a nine-batter span on Saturday, the Cardinals clubbed four home runs, turning a four-run deficit into a two-run lead and leaving Jeff Samardzija to wonder how things had gone awry seemingly in a blink.

"It's nice to have an offense that can instantly make something happen," manager Mike Matheny said. "We're down, 4-0, and the other guy is dealing -- and he had good, good stuff today -- but you just sense if we get a couple guys on base, something good can happen here."

Not since his rookie season as manager has Matheny featured a lineup with this much power potential. Brandon Moss started the comeback with a homer to open the fifth. It was his team-leading 11th homer. Before the inning closed, Aledmys Diaz was being summoned for a curtain call after his three-run blast off the left-field foul pole erased the rest of the early deficit.

Back-to-back homers by Stephen Piscotty and Matt Adams the next inning completed a turn through the batting order that saw Samardzija give up one fewer home run that he had in his previous 80 innings this season.

"The old saying 'Hitting is contagious' absolutely holds true," Piscotty said. "Moss got it rolling for us. We needed something to kind of break the rhythm that Samardzija was in."

This sort of power display, however, can no longer be considered surprising. The Cardinals are tied for the National League lead with 76 homers, 36 more than they had through 56 games last season. Forty-two percent of their runs have been generated by the long ball.

The club has already notched five four-homer games -- one more than it had from 2013-15 -- and it features seven players with at least eight home runs. It's that depth of power that is especially unique.

"We have a lot of good players here who can hit home runs at any moment," Diaz said. "We trust that everybody can hit. If we're down by three or four runs, we can get them [back]."

In fact, this was the second time this season the Cardinals climbed out of a four-run hole to win. Both of those come-from-behind victories have featured back-to-back home runs, something the Cardinals have done four different times this season.

The Cardinals, who finished 2015 with 137 home runs, are on pace to blow past that figure before the end of July. Overall, they're on pace to hit 220 homers, which would rank as third most in franchise history. The only two teams in franchise history to hit more were the 1998 (223 homers) and 2000 (235) clubs on which Mark McGwire accounted for 22 percent of the total.

"We have a number of guys who can reach out and get you," Matheny said. "All the way around, guys are driving the ball when they get opportunities in good counts. It's something that we are just going to expect."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.