There is a sense that the St. Louis offense has begun to find its way. The solution to the problem the club had in the initial weeks of the season may have been as simple as returning to the comfy confines of Busch Stadium.
It has been at home that the Cardinals have found an offensive rhythm as of late and at home where they will attempt to complete their first sweep of the season when they take on Arizona on Thursday night.
"I'm just seeing better at-bats all the way around," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've seen little bits of that all season long, it's just a matter of the consistency is what we're missing. We're seeing a little bit more of it now, and like I said, hopefully we can stretch it out as long as possible."
St. Louis has scored at least four runs in seven of eight games on the current homestand, averaging 4.5 runs per game. On the season, the Cardinals are averaging 4.6 runs per game at home in 20 games, compared to 3.23 on the road in 26 games.
The trend in the recent stretch of home games has St. Louis within 2.5 games of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central, the closest it has been since April 19.
"The last couple of games the offense has really started to click," said Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams, who broke an eight-game homerless streak for St. Louis on Tuesday. "We're not stressing about having low power numbers. We know we have guys in our lineup that can hit it out any day. We just have to wait for that pitch to do it on."
Meanwhile, Arizona has struggled through offensive inconsistency of its own. The D-backs arrived in St. Louis having scored 23 runs during a two-game winning streak against the Dodgers. Starters Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha and the Cardinals bullpen effectively halted that streak in the first two games of the series, holding Arizona to two runs over the last 21 innings.
"We felt like we were rolling, and then you catch a pitcher who is hot like that, it's frustrating," D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock said after Wainwright allowed one hit Tuesday night. "You really wanted to keep it going. But we had that happen last series, too, where [Zack] Greinke came out and dealt against us, and then in the next two games we got things going. We won't forget that."
St. Louis is 0-3 in games where it has gone for a sweep this season. They hope to break that trend before leaving Busch Stadium behind for a three-game road trip in Cincinnati.
"I would say any baseball player is more comfortable hitting at home," Adams said. "But you've got to be comfortable hitting on the road, too, or you're not going to do well."
D-backs: Big fans of St. Louis fans
The D-backs not only have great respect for what the Cardinals have accomplished on the field in recent years, but also the way the fans at Busch Stadium conduct themselves.
In Tuesday night's series opener, Pollock made an outstanding catch as he crashed into the wall in left-center.
When the replay was shown on the scoreboard the sellout crowd rose to give him a standing ovation.
"It's a pretty cool place," Pollock said. "They're on you the whole game, and then you make a play and the same guys who are on you are now cheering you. You don't really see that in too many places. This is definitely a special place for baseball. The fans are very, very passionate and they respect good baseball."
Cardinals: Adams going without elbow brace
One day after Adams went without a brace on his right elbow and homered for the third time this season, the Cardinals' first baseman returned to the Busch Stadium batter's box without it on Wednesday.
"My elbow's fine, 100 percent," Adams said Tuesday. "I'm just playing around with the way it feels with it off and it feels good, so we're going to stick with that for awhile."
Adams' season was cut short in 2012 when he underwent surgery to remove bone chips around his elbow. He experienced issues with his elbow late last season and wore the brace from September through the end of the season.
Matheny hinted that he prefers Adams wear the brace for protective purposes, but said the decision is up to his first baseman.
"It's his call. If he feels better without it, he's not going to wear it. If he feels he needs it, he's going to wear it," Matheny said. "We've talked. I'm not bullish about it. I like watching our guys out there on a daily basis. If there's something they can do that will increase their odds of being out there health-wise, I like to see them do it."
• Cardinals second baseman Mark Ellis, who has appeared in 23 games this season, has had success against Thursday starter Wade Miley, going 10-for-23 (.435) with four home runs.
• D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing the previous three games with a sore shoulder. Hill went 0-for-5.
• Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta will return to the starting lineup for the series finale after sitting Wednesday against Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy. Peralta is 1-for-21 in his career against McCarthy and was given the night off. He eventually pinch-hit and went 0-for-1.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.