The Cardinals' Jose Martinez is making the most of his opportunity. A series of injuries has opened the door for Martinez and his power was on display when St. Louis thumped the San Diego Padres 8-4 on Tuesday night.
"Talk about sparks," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He has just come up with big at-bats in big situations."
Martinez smacked two home runs, rookie Harrison Bader added a career-high three RBIs and Michael Wacha survived a shaky start to last six innings as the streaking Cardinals won for the fifth time in six games.
Martinez added a double to go 3 for 3 and finish with three RBIs.
"I think it's confidence," Martinez said. "I think no matter what pitcher is out there I'm trying to do the best I can. You have to take advantage of this time and just try to stay positive and do the same thing."
Bader, who was a September call-up on Friday, stroked his third home run and had his third multi-hit game since being summoned for his second stint with the club.
"I'm just more relaxed," Bader said. "It's just a feeling that you belong. I think some young players struggle with that aspect."
Wacha (11-7), who blanked the Padres over his last four innings, was charged with four runs (three earned) and seven hits. He walked three and struck out six in winning for the second straight time after suffering three consecutive losses.
"Today wasn't necessarily what you are looking for but that is great sign of him just trusting himself," Matheny said. "He was taking his time, catching his breath, making sure he had his mind right. He has grown as a pitcher in how he is using his stuff."
Three Cardinals relievers shut out the Padres in the final three innings.
Travis Wood (2-2) lasted two-plus innings and was nicked for two home runs. Wood was rocked for seven runs (six earned) and seven hits, with two walks and two strikeouts. It was his second loss in his last three decisions.
"I was leaving some balls up, I made some mistakes and they didn't miss them," Wood said. "They made me pay for them and they got me out of there pretty quick."
Padres manager Andy Green agreed that Wood was careless with his location as numerous offerings found the heart of the plate.
"Too many mid-middle mistakes," Green said. "Really whatever pitcher was thrown it ended up middle-middle."
Neither starting pitcher was effective early, although Wacha didn't struggle as badly as Wood.
Both teams came out swinging as they combined for 11 runs through the first 2 1/2 innings.
The Cardinals scored twice in the first when Martinez smacked his 12th homer, a two-run shot off Wood's 85 mph cut fastball.
The Padres tied it with two of their own, on Wil Myers' RBI single and Bader's throwing error.
St. Louis tacked on three runs in the second, in what would be Wood's last full inning. Bader compensated for his erratic throw with a three-run homer into the left-field seats for a 5-2 lead.
San Diego made it 5-4 thanks to an unlikely, but not surprising, power source: Wood. He blasted a two-run homer, his 12th career homer (counting the playoffs) and his second in consecutive outings.
But Wood didn't record an out in the third, pulled after 45 pitches. Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina each contributed RBIs for a 7-4 lead.
Padres rookie Miguel Diaz threw four innings of scoreless relief.
Cardinals: 3B Matt Shoemaker (right shoulder strain) had an MRI and it appears he'll be out until at least the weekend. ... CF Dexter Fowler (hip strain) remained out but he could start on Wednesday. ... 2B Kolten Wong (sore back) is expected to be ready by Friday. ... OF Tommy Pham (right shoulder strain) could return on Wednesday.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (0-0, 11.25), the team's first-round draft pick in 2014, makes his second start in the majors. Flaherty didn't get a decision in his debut against the Giants on Friday, pitching four innings and allowing five runs and eight hits. He struck out six.