CINCINNATI (AP) — Willson Contreras hit a three-run, first-inning homer, Luken Baker added a three-run double and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Cincinnati 9-4 on Friday night, dropping the Reds 1 1/2 games back for the NL’s final wild card berth.

Nolan Arenado had three hits and snapped a career-long 11-game streak without an RBI. The Cardinals have won four of five and scored five or more runs for the sixth straight game.

Cincinnati led the NL Central at 59-49 at the start of August but is 14-21 since. The Reds (73-70) trail Arizona (74-68) and Miami (73-68) for the last wild card.

Hunter Renfroe hit a two-run homer and Nick Senzel had a solo drive in the third inning for the Reds. who stranded 12 runners and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Cincinnati twice left the bases loaded, when Harrison Bader hit into an inning-ending forceout in the second against Drew Rom and when Matt Liberatore (3-5), the fourth of six Cardinals relievers, struck out Tyler Stephenson in the sixth. St. Louis’ bullpen pitched five scoreless innings.

The Reds opened a stretch in which they play 17 of their last 20 games against teams with losing records.

Andrew Abbott (8-5) tied his career high by allowing six runs. He pitched four innings, giving up four hits and three walks.

Contreras hit a 440-foot homer into the second deck in left. Baker, who entered with one RBI in 18 games of his rookie season, boosted the lead to 6-0 in the third.

Rom, a 23-year-old left-hander who went to Highlands High in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, gave up four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

The Reds’ Noelvi Marte scored on a double steal in the fourth.


Reds: INF Joey Votto (left shoulder strain) and INF Jonathan India (left foot plantar fasciitis) each hit two-run doubles for Triple-A Louisville on rehab assignments. Votto was 1 for 4 and India 1 for 2 with a pair of walks. Manager David Bell expects them to be back in Cincinnati’s lineup on Sunday.


Cardinal LHP Zack Thompson (4-5, 3.91, 53 strikeouts) is scheduled to start Saturday against RHP Carson Spiers (0-0, 6.75, seven strikeouts), who will be making his second career appearance and start.