CINCINNATI -- Before the Cardinals could savor a nine-run inning or coast to a 13-4 victory over the Reds on Sunday, Adam Wainwright first had to navigate through a nearly calamitous opening frame. But the Reds' inability to deliver the knockout punch gave the Cardinals new life, which they used as a springboard to one of their most prolific offensive performances of the season.
In his return from the disabled list, Wainwright needed 39 pitches to record his first out. By that point, Joey Votto had already connected for a three-run homer, and the Reds had loaded the bases. But Wainwright found a way out of the mess, and within a span of six pitches, the Cardinals went from trailing to playing from in front the next inning.
"A 45-pitch first inning was not how we wanted to come back from the DL, that's for sure," said Wainwright. Pitching with a cut near the tip of his middle finger, he never could establish his fastball command.
"But I think when you look at that game, it came down to a couple of key moments. And being able to get out of that inning with just three runs gave our offense a chance to go out and do some really great things."
St. Louis ambushed Reds starter Homer Bailey with five straight hits to take a 4-3 lead in the second. The score would remain as such until the fourth, when the Cardinals tied their season high by scoring nine runs. Cleanup hitter Jose Martinez delivered a grand slam, and pinch-hitter Luke Voit punctuated the inning with a two-run double. The Cardinals sent 13 batters to the plate and tallied seven hits in the inning.
"I know Waino had a tough start, but we went out there trying to be aggressive," Martinez said. "It was the first inning. We knew we had eight more innings to put us in position to win. We took it pitch by pitch, and everything went well."
In his 69-pitch effort, Bailey allowed a career-high 10 runs on 10 hits and four walks over 3 1/3 innings. His season ERA ballooned to 8.86.
Wainwright's day was even shorter, as he was pulled after throwing 88 pitches over three innings. More than half of those (45) came in the opening frame. Wainwright, who had missed two starts due to mid-back tightness, tied a career high with five walks, but he was also aided by a handful of stellar defensive plays to limit the damage.
"Wainwright wasn't nearly himself," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He was vulnerable and didn't have his great stuff or great command. … They did dodge a big bullet there. He made some pitches when he really needed to."
Brett Cecil entered in relief behind Wainwright and earned the victory with three scoreless innings, his longest appearance since a start in 2012. The win helped pull the Cardinals to within 3 1/2 games of the Cubs, who lead the National League Central.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dandy defense: Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter helped keep the Reds from potentially knocking Wainwright out in the first inning by turning a critical bases-loaded double play. On his 39th pitch of the inning, Wainwright induced a ground ball off the bat of Jesse Winker. Carpenter fielded the ball, stepped on first and threw home in time for catcher Yadier Molina to put a tag on Adam Duvall. Wainwright then struck out Bailey to end the threat.
"I already had it made up in my mind what I was going to do with the ball before it was hit to me," Carpenter said. "You get down 5-0, 6-0, even 4-0, in the first, it can change the whole game. It's even funny to think that we had the momentum. But even down three, it felt like we took the momentum with that play."
Feeling grand: With the first grand slam of his career, Martinez gave the Cardinals breathing room they hadn't yet enjoyed on this road trip. The Cards opened the fourth with four of their first five batters reaching base before Martinez crushed a fastball for his eighth home run this season. He was making just his third career start as a cleanup hitter. Reds pitchers have now served up seven grand slams this season.
"We needed that big hit. Right?" Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've talked about it. You guys are tired of hearing me say it. But it [was] a good time to have one."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his 135th career home run at Great American Ball Park, Votto tied Jay Bruce for the most by any player since the park opened in 2003. The home run was also the 250th of Votto's career. He'll move into a tie with Ted Kluszewski for fifth on the franchise's all-time list with his next home run.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Reds tried to take two runs off the scoreboard in the fourth by challenging a two-run double by Voit that landed on the edge of the right-field foul line. After a one-minute, 19-second review, it was determined there was not enough evidence to overturn the call. Voit improved to 5-for-12 as a pinch-hitter this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals conclude their road trip with a two-day stop in Kansas City to renew their I-70 battle against the Royals. Carlos Martinez (7-9, 3.59 ERA) will match up against Ian Kennedy (4-7, 4.60 ERA) in Monday's 7:15 p.m. CT series opener.
Reds: Right-hander Tim Adleman (5-9, 5.42 ERA) is back in the rotation for the first of four against the Padres at Great American Ball Park for a 7:10 ET game Monday. Adleman takes Robert Stephenson's spot. Stephenson went on the disabled list with a bruised right rotator cuff. Adleman had been dropped from the rotation after going 0-5 with a 7.34 ERA in July.