The Reds did what they had to do.

They won the big four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals wrapping up with a homer binge of a 6-2 victory Thursday night before a crowd of 21418 at Great American Ball Park.

Winning three of four over one of the teams you're chasing in September is a good thing. But for the Reds it was a necessary thing. They needed to show they could play with St. Louis after losing seven straight series to the Cards.

"It was a big series" catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "There's no other way to put it. Guys came to play. We realized the moment. We turned it up. The bats got going. When the bats weren't going we were still in the game. The pitching's been phenomenal. We played good ball these last four days."

Winning Thursday was essential after letting Wednesday's game get away 5-4 in 16 innings.

"It was a tough one" Hanigan said. "We felt like we could have had it. We came right back today. This game wasn't a put-away. But it was a comfortable game against the Cardinals. We haven't many of those."

The Reds moved to within three games of the idle Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central and within 1 1/2 games of the second-place Cardinals.

"We'll just keep playing" Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "My teams usually finish strong. We've got a tough road. We can't celebrate too much. We've got the Dodgers coming in here."