But a new-look offense greeted Cincinnati on Tuesday, and it helped the Cardinals coast to their 10th win in 12 games, keeping pace in the National League Central. They trail the Cubs by two games and hold a half-game lead over Milwaukee.
Pham, after scoring four times in his return to the lineup on Tuesday, had a vastly different description of the offense this time around.
"We're starting to drive the ball," Pham said. "A lot of extra-base hits. We're running the bases better. We've actually been stealing some bases. We've been walking, too. We're doing all the good things right now offensively that we weren't doing earlier."
That shows not only in the results, as the Cardinals are 23-12 since Pham's candid comments, but also in the numbers. A club that averaged 4.4 runs per game through Aug. 4 has averaged 6.1 runs in 35 games since. The team's OPS has jumped from .745 to .838, and the slugging percentage has gone from .416 to .479.
Tuesday helped pad some of those figures, with the Cardinals pouncing on the Reds for seven extra-base hits, six of which plated runs. Aggressive baserunning helped the Cardinals capitalize on run-scoring opportunities, and five two-out runs in the first two innings set the tone on a night when the club tallied at least one run in six different innings.
"You saw it right there today what we're capable of," said shortstop Paul DeJong, who contributed his ninth three-hit game of the season. "Those are the types of things we're striving for every day. We understand it's not always going to happen, but timely hitting is definitely a factor coming down the stretch."
The offensive resurgence could be credited to a variety of factors. Pham pointed to three players -- Jose Martinez, Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter -- as particular catalysts.
Martinez has emerged as the club's cleanup hitter while batting .429 with a 1.227 OPS since Aug. 30. He reached base another three times and drove in two on Tuesday. Molina, who leads the club with 27 two-out RBIs this season, has driven in 10 runs over the last three games. And Carpenter continues to be an on-base machine. He reached five times Tuesday while putting just one ball in play.
Martinez's two-run double CIN@STL: Martinez rips a two-run double down the lineJose Martinez lines a two-run double down the left-field line in the 4th to pad the Cardinals' lead
"We've been trying to be like this since the first day," Martinez said, "and now everything is clicking for us."
It has also helped that the Cardinals continue to get key contributions from several rookies while other position players have been on the mend. None has been more instrumental than DeJong, who clubbed his team-leading 23rd home run.
The collective production seems sustainable, too, given that the Cardinals have been slowly returning toward optimal health. Pham, Carpenter and Kolten Wong are back after nagging injuries. Jedd Gyorko and Dexter Fowler hope to be close behind.
"I think we're getting a little bit of everything from everybody, all the way down the line," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Even some of the bench guys coming in and taking quality at-bats. Those are going to play in the long run."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.