CINCINNATI — Matt Carpenter hit a go-ahead home in the third inning, Nolan Gorman also went deep and the St. Louis Cardinals reached .500 for the first time in six weeks with a 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.

Carpenter hit his first home run for the Cardinals since April 30, 2021, as St. Louis (27-27) won for the 12th time in 15 games. The Cardinals had not been at .500 since they were 9-9 before play on April 17 and they had dropped to 15-24 before their turnaround. They have won five straight series.

''We're playing good baseball,'' Carpenter said. ''Our offense is coming full circle and getting close to what we thought we were at the beginning of the year.''

A 38-year-old three-time All-Star who played for the Cardinals from 2011-21, Carpenter hit a third-inning drive off Frankie Montas (2-4). Carpenter is batting .250 with four RBIs in 36 at-bats.

Gorman hit his 10th home run of the season, an eighth-inning drive off Brent Suter, and also had an RBI double that boosted the lead to 2-0 in the fourth.

Andre Pallante (1-1) allowed three hits in six scoreless innings in his first start since July 31, 2022. He struck out four and walked three.

''Pallante did a really nice job," Cardinal manager Oliver Mormol said. "To have an outing like that it was impressive. He got a lot of weak contact.''

St. Louis had used Matthew Liberatore as its fifth starter after Steven Matz strained his lower back in early May. Pallante went to the minor leagues to compete for a spot in the rotation.

''It was definitely what I was hoping for when I got sent down at the beginning of this year,'' Pallante said. ''I always felt of myself as a starter, and the more pitches I throw, the better I get. I hadn't been pitching well enough to be up here. Pouting was not going to where I want to be.''

Ryan Helsley allowed Tyler Stephenson's sacrifice fly in the ninth before Elly De La Cruz hit into a game-ending forceout that gave Helsley his major league-leading 18th save in 19 chances.

Montas (2-4) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings, dropping to 0-4 in his last eight starts.

''To be honest, I'm never going to be focused on wins and losses," Montas said. "I'm trying to go out and do my best to try to give my team a chance to win. I just get shaky for one inning, not executing the pitches, and then I'm good after that. I'm way better than the way I'm pitching, for sure.''

Brendan Donovan and Masyn Winn had three hits each. Winn extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

''He continues to take professional at bats. He's not trying to do too much. Whatever the game presents he's willing to give it a good shot. Today was another example of that," Mamol said.

Jonathan India had an RBI single in the seventh and right fielder Dylan Carlson made a run-scoring throwing error in the eighth after replacing Lars Nootbaar, who left the game with an injury.

De La Cruz had two hits and is hitting .216 in May with 37 strikeouts. He has 74 strikeouts in 201 at-bats this season, tying teammate Will Benson for the major league lead through Wednesday afternoon's games.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals; Lars Nootbaar, who missed two games with a tight hamstring, left the game in the seventh with an undisclosed injury.

Reds: TJ Friedl was 0 for 3 with two walks in his return after missing 15 games after he broke his left thumb when hit by a pitch from Kyle Harrison at San Francisco on May 12. Friedl was activated from the 10-day IL and 1B Mike Ford was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (3-5, 5,64) will start Friday at Philadelphia. RHP Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.04) takes the mound for the Phillies.

Reds: RHP Graham Ashcraft (4-3, 4.67) starts Friday at the Chicago Cubs.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB