ST. LOUIS (AP) — Dexter Fowler came up with a novel idea to help the Cardinals break out of their hitting slump.
The St. Louis outfielder took several players and their wives to a karaoke bar following a season-low, three-hit performance in a shutout loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. Turns out, Fowler's plan apparently hit all the right notes.
He drove in three runs, Marcell Ozuna had four RBIs and the Cardinals cruised to a 17-4 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
"Everybody was good," Fowler said of the singing performances by the group that included Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Luke Gregersen — who was surprisingly the best of the bunch, according to the outfielder.
"We'll have to do it again," Fowler said. "Round 2."
St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said he had never sung karaoke, but might give it a try next time, especially if the team keeps hitting like it did after the players' latest outing.
Paul Goldschmidt reached base four times and had three hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals, who managed just one run in their previous 21 innings but bounced back with 16 hits and recorded a season high in runs.
St. Louis, which won for just the second time in eight games, sent nine or more batters to the plate three times over the first six innings.
The 17-run output is the most for the Cardinals since an 18-5 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 20, 2018.
"Just consistent, good at-bats throughout the game," Goldschmidt said. "Getting to the postseason, you're going to have to do it consistently well every night. Tonight's good, but it's just one win."
Gregory Polanco homered and drove in three runs for the Pirates, who lost their second in a row after winning five of six.
Fowler broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run, ground-rule double that highlighted a four-run, second-inning surge for the Cardinals.
"We've been taking some good at-bats, but our luck wasn't there the last few days," Fowler said. "(Tonight) everybody was swinging the bat well. You just try and keep that train moving."
St. Louis sent 10 to the plate in a five-run fourth inning that pushed its lead to 11-2. Jose Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk, Molina hit an RBI single and Kolten Wong had a run-scoring double. Pirates first baseman Josh Bell also had a fielding error that allowed two runs to score in the inning.
Shildt was impressed that his team was able to get the job done without a home run — just 10 singles and six doubles.
"It was good to see everybody in the lineup taking good approaches," Shildt said. "We're at our best when we're doing damage in a lot of different ways."
Michael Wacha (3-0) allowed four runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings to pick up his first win in three starts for the Cardinals.
Joe Musgrove (1-4) lasted just three innings for Pirates, giving up eight runs and six hits.
"Those guys were really aggressive early in the count. Not punching out a lot, not trying to get themselves in hole," Musgrove said.
Pittsburgh took a short-lived 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Polanco in the first.
The Pirates' Melky Cabrera had a 12-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 performance.
MARTINEZ ON THE WAY
St. Louis right-hander Carlos Martinez tossed a solid inning at Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday and could return to the major league roster in, 10 to 14 days, according to Shildt.
"We have a plan in place," Shildt said. "He's pitching well and recovering well."
Martinez, who has yet to pitch in the majors this season due to right shoulder soreness, did not allow a run in a one-inning, 23-pitch stint against Iowa. He walked two and struck out one.
Shildt said Martinez will remain at Memphis for the time being and is likely to make several more appearances.
St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright (3-3, 4.71) will face RHP Trevor Williams (1-1, 3.74) in the second of the four-game series Friday. Wainwright is 13-7 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 lifetime starts against the Pirates. Williams has pitched at least six innings in all seven of his starts this season.