ST. LOUIS — The long ball is creeping back into the St. Louis Cardinals' attack.
The Cardinals hit two more home runs Wednesday afternoon, including a three-run blast from Matt Adams, and ripped the Milwaukee Brewers 9-3 at Busch Stadium.
Adams' 439-foot rocket to right-center on a 1-0 curveball from Matt Garza (1-3) put the Cardinals ahead for good at 4-3 in the third. Allen Craig's two-run double in the fourth, RBI doubles by pitcher Shelby Miller and Jon Jay in the fifth, and Craig's homer in the sixth removed the drama.
"There were two guys on and I got that hanging breaking ball and hit a three-run homer. After that, (the offense) just kind of kept going," said Adams, whose second homer of the season was his first since April 12.
After going homerless in 366 at-bats between between April 16 and Sunday, the Cardinals have now hit seven in their last 143 at-bats. They have homered in four consecutive games. The power switch has been flipped back to the on position.
Still, caution remains.
"That's one game, though," Adams said of his heroics Wednesday, discounting the previous three games in which the Cardinals also homered. "You're not always going to have homers. We know that. We've just got to continue to go out there and have good at-bats. If we do that, we'll still get runs across the board."
After blowing 3-0 leads and losing in extra innings in each of the first two games of the series, the Cardinals seemed to be on a similar path when Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer in the second and Carlos Gomez added a solo shot in the third to put Milwaukee ahead 3-1. St. Louis had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on Matt Holliday's single that sored Jay, who had doubled.
But Garza couldn't handle the good fortune. He walked Jay with one out in the third, then allowed Holliday's single ahead of Adams' home run. Suddenly, the Cardinals' dugout was full of life.
"We've been fighting it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've talked as a group that you can't let those (negative) things start to creep in to where you think, 'Here it comes again. Get a lead, lose it.' We start wondering, 'All right, what's going to happen here?'
"Adams being able to jump on one was a big blow. I thought guys went about their at-bats really good today. You could see some confidence start to build. You never know what's going to be the one hit, the one play that kind of gets people going in a positive direction. That was one of them."
Garza wasn't around much longer. He left with a bruised right thumb after walking Matt Carpenter to lead off the fourth. Craig's two-run double came against Wei-Chung Wang, who was roughed up for four runs (earned) on six hits in three innings.
After Zach Duke pitched the seventh, the Brewers turned to catcher Martin Maldonado in the eighth. Maldonado pitched around Craig's leadoff single and kept Milwaukee's deficit at 9-3.
Miller (3-2) worked six-plus innings, allowing three runs (earned) on six hits, with three walks and one strikeout. Miller still hasn't pitched his best, but for one day, the Cardinals' offense came to his defense.
"We needed a huge win there," Miller said. "I was a little rough early on, but otherwise I settled in --other than those first couple of innings (when) I kind of left the ball over the middle and gave up some big hits. But today the offense put up some big runs and we came out with a win, which was big."
Also big was avoiding falling behind the first-place Brewers (20-8) by 7 1/2 games in the NL Central. Instead, the Cardinals (15-14) are staring at a 5 1/2-game deficit as the calendar turns to May.
The win enabled the Cardinals to avoid their first losing March/April since they were 10-14 in 2007. The Cardinals, however, are not in first place in the division at the end of April for the first time since 2008.
Matheny didn't endorse the victory as the biggest of the season, but with the way the Brewers are playing, it would behoove the Cardinals to avoid falling much further behind. Milwaukee soon will have all three of its injured players back: Ryan Braun, Jean Segura and Aramis Ramirez.
"We understand the fact that these guys are playing really good baseball," Matheny said. "That's what we plan on people saying about us at some point here in the near future, and hopefully the rest of the way through. We put a lot of emphasis on every game, doing things the right way and doing it consistently that way. That's kind of our goal at this point, not putting too much focus on one club or another."