ST. LOUIS — With 15 runs and 23 hits, including five homers, the St. Louis Cardinals offense showed its bustout ability in the final two games of the home-opening series against Cincinnati.
The Cardinals were battered and bruised after their 13-4 loss to the Reds on Monday, but they stormed back and proved why many expect them to be in the hunt for the National League Central title.
Eight of the Cardinals' 14 hits in their 10-0 shellacking of the Reds on Wednesday were for extra bases --home runs by Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter and doubles by Adams, Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Pete Kozma.
"We don't preach (power). We're not telling these guys that they have to go out and do that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We really hadn't seen that power jump. Just because we know it's there doesn't mean it's something that we feel they have to go out there and display.
"But it's naturally going to happen some days, and today was a nice day for it to come around. They were putting together good passes on the ball. When they try not to (overswing), the ball jumps for them."
Carpenter's homer highlighted his third career four-hit game. Adams, meanwhile, hit his second two-run homer in two days as he started at first base for Allen Craig.
Beltran's homer was his first of the season, and Jay put the Cardinals on the board with his second homer leading off the fifth.
Adams, who earned the final spot on the roster when the Cardinals released infielder Ronny Cedeno, is batting .643 (9-for-14) with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in four games.
"This is really what he's done his entire pro career. The guy's hit at every level," Matheny said of Adams. "The part that surprises me the most is how sharp he's been able to stay when not getting the consistent at-bats. He's not just hitting cripple pitches. He's putting together good at-bats. He's fighting off some tough ones and jumping on some mistakes. It's been pretty impressive to watch."
Adams is a far different player than he was last May when he was rushed to the major leagues to replace the injured Lance Berkman.
"I feel like I'm more of an all-around hitter," he said. "I'm a better off-speed pitch (hitter), laying off the ones in the dirt and making them get it up for me. (Hitting) is something I pride myself in. I want to give myself and the team the best at-bats I possibly can."
Matheny is actively looking for opportunities to get Adams' powerful bat in the lineup. What that entails, however, is giving time off for Craig, Beltran or Holliday, players Matheny would like to have on the field as often as possible.
Matheny said Adams wasn't ready to produce last season.
"He wasn't in a real good spot when he came up last year," Matheny said. "Sometimes you get these guys when you need some help and they're really swinging the bat well. There's other times they're fighting and feeling a little bit. He was more of the latter.
"He's in a good spot (now). It's fun to see a guy early in his career have a little success and get the confidence going he can do it at this level as well."
Carpenter isn't at all surprised that Adams has dominated in the early part of the season.
"That guy's hit everywhere he's been," Carpenter said. "Since the day he signed as a Cardinal, he's put up phenomenal numbers. It's no surprise to me. I've never seen him not mash the baseball.
"When he stays with his approach and gets good pitches to hit, he's got a knack for putting the barrel on it. As big and strong as he is, good things usually happen when he does."
Carpenter's in a groove of his own, batting .400 (14-for-35) with five doubles and six RBIs. His 11 runs lead the Cardinals.
"I come to the park every day prepared to play," said Carpenter, who started at second base Wednesday. "If I'm not, I'll prepare in a way to come off the bench like I did last year. Whatever happens, happens, and I'll just run with it."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.