All the Cardinals offense needed to really get jump-started was a trip to the desert. After scoring 21 runs in their first eight games and 27 in their first nine, with seven of those games producing three runs or fewer, the Cardinals rolled up 31 runs in three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Everybody's batting average fattened as the Cardinals completed their first series victory with a 15-5 win on Wednesday but right fielder Lance Berkman probably benefited the most.
Berkman, after his hitless streak had reached 11, then hit four homers in a span of nine at-bats against Arizona, including a grand slam that capped a six-run second inning Wednesday. Berkman knocked in 10 runs for the series after having just one before then.
First baseman Albert Pujols, whose average had dipped to .128 at one point, rattled off six hits in his final nine at-bats in the series.
After reaching a season high with 16 hits in a 13-8 loss on Tuesday, the Cardinals bumped that to 17 hits on Wednesday, with catcher Gerald Laird getting his first three of the season, including two doubles, and center fielder Colby Rasmus tacking on three more, finishing the three-game series with seven hits, including a rare bunt single that ignited a two-run first.
The Cardinals, who had only eight extra-base hits in their first six games, had 10 on Wednesday, including eight doubles.
"The hitters were relentless," said manager Tony La Russa.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez, recalled earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in striking fashion, fanning five hitters over the final two innings. Sanchez, a hard-throwing, 22-year-old Venezuelan, was brought up from Class AAA Memphis along with RHP Fernando Salas. They replaced RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) and LHP Brian Tallet (fractured right hand), who both went on the 15-day disabled list after being hurt Tuesday.
RHP Jake Westbrook gained his first victory of the season but didn't make it through six innings. Manager Tony La Russa, however, thought that Westbrook was "outstanding," in that he walked only two while pitching with a huge lead that swelled to 13 runs at one point. Three of the five runs Westbrook gave up in 5 1/3 innings were unearned.
C Gerald Laird was nothing for his first nine as a National Leaguer but he had three hits on Wednesday. Laird has made three starts and the Cardinals have won them all.
RF Lance Berkman, who homered four times in the three-game series, has hit three to left field while batting left-handed, which is his better side. "When I'm doing well, I'm hitting balls the other way," Berkman said.
The Cardinals have just one left-handed reliever now that Brian Tallet is on the DL. General manager John Mozeliak called that situation "not ideal." Manager Tony La Russa said, "I think it's realistic to evaluate your roster day to day and see what's your best option. This makes the most sense right now, and you keep looking if there's some setup that works for you."
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 - Runs batted in by 2B Skip Schumaker in the last four games. He never had driven in runs in four straight games in his career until his last four games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're going to be a tough club to pitch against because we have a lot of different ways to score."
- Manager Tony La Russa, on the revived Cardinals offense.
LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13.
RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.
INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.