Game Report: Cardinals 9, Reds 2

There is nothing complicated about what has to happen for the Cardinals to still find their way into the playoffs. They have to win, and they have to have help.

Both happened on Wednesday as the Cardinals got another solid start from Luke Weaver and home runs from Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler and Paul DeJong to pound the Reds in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, the Rockies lost 4-0 to the Giants, the Cubs lost at Tampa and the Brewers suffered a walk-off loss in Pittsburgh.

The combination left the Cardinals 2 ½ games out of the second wild card spot, where Colorado leads Milwaukee by one game. The Cardinals are 5 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central with 11 games to play.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Carpenter led off the game with his 21st homer of the year, while Fowler and DeJong went back-to-back in the third; the 18th homer for Fowler and 24th for DeJong … Fowler has homered in the last three games … Yadier Molina doubled in two runs in the fifth to give him 80 RBIs this year, tying his career high set in 2013 … Tommy Pham hit two of the Cardinals’ six doubles. The nine extra-base hits were the most by the Cardinals in a game in Cincinnati since they had 10 on Aug. 4, 2013 … It also was their most extra-base hits in a game this season.

On the mound: Weaver was pulled after five innings. He gave up two runs and three hits in the fifth after allowing just a pair of first-inning singles through the first four innings. In his six consecutive wins since moving into the rotation, Weaver has pitched 36 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs. He struck out seven against the Reds, giving him 49 strikeouts over that stretch … Zach Duke, Seung Hwan Oh and Sandy Alcantara each worked a perfect inning in relief before Sam Tuivailala allowed the final Reds’ hit in the ninth.

Key stat: Molina continues to lead the Cardinals in RBIs. The last time a catcher led the team in RBIs for a season was 1978, when Ted Simmons drove in 100. That was the seventh consecutive year Simmons led the team in RBIs.

Worth noting: Carpenter’s homer was the second leadoff homer by the Cardinals this year. Fowler hit the other one, at Chicago, on June 2. It was the fifth career homer for Carpenter as the first batter of the game … The last Cardinal to leadoff a game at Cincinnati with a home run was David Eckstein on Sept. 11, 2007 … Prior to this season, Fowler had never homered in more than two consecutive games. He homered in four games in a row from June 15 to June 18 … As expected, Aledmys Diaz and reliever Josh Lucas rejoined the team following Memphis’ season-ending loss to Durham in the Triple A Championship game on Tuesday night.

Looking ahead: Carlos Martinez, who has been battling the flu, is scheduled to start the final game of the series on Thursday night as the Cardinals try to complete their first three-game sweep in Cincinnati since 2010. Homer Bailey is scheduled to start for the Reds.