ST. LOUIS — Lance Lynn returned to form and Matt Holliday returned to the lineup for the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Matt Carpenter simply kept doing what he's been doing.
The result was a 10-2 rout of the Cincinnati Reds that completed a three-game sweep and improved St. Louis' major league-best record to 96-56. The Cardinals remained four games in front of second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
"A lot of things happened offensively today that we're proud of," manager Mike Matheny said. "A very good day for us."
Carpenter hit a pair of two-run homers, Lynn (12-10) pitched six scoreless innings and Holliday had an RBI double in his first start since July 29 during a game when virtually everything went right for the Cardinals.
Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos also homered as the Cardinals hit four for the first time this season.
Cincinnati fell into last place in the NL Central, a half-game behind Milwaukee.
"It was a beating," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We were never really in it. We got down so far early, it was a daunting task to get back into it. It wasn't a well-played game."
Both of Carpenter's homers came off rookie Brandon Finnegan (1-1), who allowed six runs in five innings. With his second multihomer game, Carpenter increased his total to 26 homers, 15 more than his previous career best.
"This is all kind of all foreign territory," Carpenter said. "I knew I could definitely do more but where it would head, I didn't know. I'm still finding out."
Lynn gave up three singles, walked none and allowed only one runner to reach second base before leaving with the Cardinals ahead 9-0 after the sixth. He had allowed 12 runs in 11 2-3 innings over his past three starts.
"I got outs," said Lynn, who declined to address the mechanical adjustments Matheny said the right-hander made after his most recent start. "I wasn't worried about anything."
Grichuk, one of four Cardinals regulars to spend time on the disabled list in the second half, started the offensive barrage with a two-out homer in the second.
"We have a lot of guys that can hit for power but unfortunately a lot of us have been injured," Grichuk said. "Now that everybody's getting healthier, it's going to be an exciting October."
St. Louis catcher Travis Tartamella singled in his first major league at-bat in the eighth.
Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto hit his 29th homer in the seventh and singled while extending his streak of reaching base safely to 40 games, one shy of his career best.
WAINWRIGHT GETS CLOSER
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright moved a step closer to returning when he faced hitters for the first time since having left Achilles surgery April 30. The operation was expected to end his season, but Wainwright now hopes to pitch out of the bullpen next week. After throwing 25 pitches in simulated-game conditions to Cardinals hitters, Wainwright said he felt strong but lacked sharpness. "I like being out there again," he said. "I wanted to be better than that. The second time, it's got to improve."
Reds: RHP Rafael Iglesias, removed from the rotation last week because of shoulder fatigue, has not been shut down for the season. Price said Iglesias' shoulder is stronger and he could pitch before the season ends.
Cardinals: Holliday (quad), Grichuk (elbow) and 1B Matt Adams (quad) have all returned to the lineup after stints on the disabled list, but none of them have been cleared to start on consecutive days. That could change soon, Matheny said.
Reds: Josh Smith (0-2, 7.71 ERA) will oppose fellow rookie Steven Matz in the opener of a four-game home series against the NL East-leading New York Mets. Matz won his major league debut against Smith and the Reds 7-2 in June.
Cardinals: Michael Wacha (16-6, 3.08) will make his first start this season against Milwaukee in the opener of St. Louis' final home series. Wacha has given up 12 earned runs in 15 innings over his past three starts.