CINCINNATI -- Big hits, so elusive for the Cardinals as of late, came in bunches on Sunday, providing the club a respite after a run of tight, low-scoring games. This one finished as anything but, as the Cardinals sailed to a 13-4 win over the Reds to pull within 3 1/2 games of the Cubs in the National League Central.
The deluge of runs was a welcome change of pace for the Cardinals, who had scored 14 over the first five games of this road trip. Over the previous nine games, they had eclipsed four runs only once. On Sunday, they plated four in a momentum-shifting second inning before adding nine more in a runaway fourth.
"Hopefully, this is the day that we look back on and say, 'That was the day it all started," said Matt Carpenter, who reached base three times and aided starter Adam Wainwright with a critical double play. "We had a lot of guys have a good day, and hopefully this will be the starting point for turning this thing around."
On a day when starters Stephen Piscotty and Jedd Gyorko were on the bench, every starting position player reached base at least twice, tallied at least one hit and scored a run. The club's 16 hits tied a season high and surpassed the Cardinals' combined total from the first two games of this series (13).
The Cardinals entered Sunday ranked 26th in the Majors with an average of 3.68 runs per game since the All-Star break.
"You need those where you look through the order and have multiple guys with multiple hits, driving the ball, coming into big situations and getting something done," manager Mike Matheny said. "Those can translate into some confidence. And you could see in some of the at-bats, guys just looked a little more aggressive."
Leading the way was Jose Martinez, the Cardinals' cleanup hitter du jour. He sparked the second-inning scoring with a leadoff double and highlighted the team's most fruitful inning of the season with a fourth-inning grand slam. It was the first grand slam of Martinez's career and the seventh served up by Reds pitchers this season.
"It felt great, especially with our offense trying to get something going and figure it out," said Martinez, who deposited the 2-1 fastball from starter Homer Bailey 369 feet into the right-center-field seats. "Today was a good day to build a little more confidence in ourselves. We needed a day like this to give us a read that we can do this."
Amid inconsistency elsewhere, Martinez has remained an offensive catalyst. Since July 24, he's gone 7-for-18 with three homers, eight RBIs, seven walks and five runs scored. His RBIs on Sunday were the first the Cardinals had gotten from the cleanup spot since July 28.
"He's had great at-bats all year," Carpenter said of Martinez. "Every chance he gets to go in there, he seems to have a good day. We're glad to have him on our team, because he's helped us out a tremendous amount."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.