A night after the power-starved Braves couldn’t manage one run against the Cardinals they hit more home runs and scored more runs than they have all season.
The Braves belted four home runs during a 13-5 rout of the Cardinals on Saturday at Busch Stadium. The Braves (40-70) won for the first time in five games this season against the Cardinals (58-52) and earned their fourth victory in their last 12 at St. Louis.
Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia hit three-run homers as the Braves took a 7-2 lead against Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez. Ender Inciarte and Matt Kemp added two-run shots in the ninth against reliever Jonathan Braxton.
The Braves rank last in the majors in home runs. They’d hit a total of five home runs in their last 10 games before Saturday so they reveled in a rare big power night.
“No kidding,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “Obviously we don’t do that lot, so it’s good. I think we are capable now.”
Freeman’s homer, estimated at 448 feet long, put the Braves ahead 4-0. Garcia added a two-out, three-run homer against Martinez in the fifth inning for a 7-3 lead. The seven runs and six earned runs allowed by Martinez were his most since he gave up seven earned runs on May 9, 2015, a stretch of 44 starts.
Inciarte extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a single in the first inning. He hit his second homer of the season in the ninth.
Kemp added another two-run homer against Braxton later in the inning. It was Kemp’s 24th home run of the season and the first since the Braves acquired him in a trade with the Padres last weekend.
“Matt was struggling up to that point,” Snitker said. “Maybe that homer will get him going and give him a burst of confidence.”
The Braves provided plenty of run support for veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez. He got promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to join a rotation that’s been thinned by injuries and demotions.
Hernandez limited the Cardinals to three runs over five-plus innings. Pinch hitter Kolten Wong’s homer to lead off the fifth inning was the only extra-base hit allowed by Hernandez, who struck out three and walked one.
“He did a good job,” Snitker said. “He competed and battled. It’s just exactly what we needed, just for him to try and get as deep as he could.”
It was Hernandez’s first big-league start since May 31, 2015. He’s started 218 games over 10 seasons in the majors (Hernandez was known as Fausto Carmona until the 2012 season).
“It felt great,” Hernandez said. “It’s always a great opportunity to pitch in the big leagues. I was very emotional to get the opportunity to pitch today.”
Hernandez departed after allowing a single to Matt Holliday to begin the fifth inning. Reliever Jose Ramirez got two fly-ball outs before walking Jedd Gyorko and Tommy Pham to load the bases.
Braves interim manager Brian Snitker called on left-hander Ian Krol to face Wong. Krol got him to ground out to end the inning and preserve the 7-3 lead.
“Our bullpen has been doing a great job,” Snitker said. “Ian is pitching I think right now with a lot of confidence. With the stuff he has, he should be confident every time he goes out. That was huge at that point in the ballgame.”
The Braves had to survive another tight situation in the eighth inning.
Right-hander Mauricio Cabrera gave up three consecutive with no outs, including Yadier Molina’s RBI double. Cabrera got Jedd Gyorko to fly out to shallow center field, forcing Peralta to hold at third base. Tommy Pham followed with a ground ball that scored Peralta and Pham was called out on a close play at first base.
The Cardinals issued a replay challenge on the call by umpire Stu Scheurwater. After a delay of more than three minutes, officials in New York let the call stand. Cabrera struck out Wong to end the inning and the Braves added five more runs in the ninth.
Chase d’Arnaud nearly hit another homer for the Braves in the ninth. His high fly ball bounced off of the wall in right field for a two-run double that set the team’s season-high for runs. The Braves won 11-8 at the White Sox on July 8.
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