HAMBURG, April 7 (Bundesliga) - In a game of two red cards and six goals, second-placed Stuttgart kept themselves in the title race with a convincing 4-2 victory over Hamburg at the AOL Arena.
Armin Veh's men, who are four points off leaders Schalke, were 4-0 up by the 50th minute after goals from Cacao, Sami Khedira, Roberto Hilbert and Fernando Meira.
The game was over as a contest long before David Jarolim and substitute Ivica Olic scored consolation goals for the beleaguered hosts, who are still not safe from the drop.
Hamburg's Anis Ben-Hatira and Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger both saw red before the break.
It only took Stuttgart 10 minutes to get on the scoreboard as Brazilian striker Cacao headed home Mathieu Delpierre's cross after the hosts failed to clear a corner.
Just three minutes later Stuttgart doubled their advantage after midfielder Pavel Pardo crossed the ball from right wing into the box, where Khedira headed past goalkeeper Frank Rost from close range.
Hamburg were already in disarray when Stuttgart turned the screw in the 27th minute with a third.
A free-kick in the 27th minute by Hitzlsperger from the left flank reached Hilbert, who beat Ben-Hatira in the air and headed the ball into the far corner.
It went from bad to worse when Ben-Hatira was then shown the red card for a foul on Delpierre, and then just before the interval referee Lutz Wagner equalled up the numbers when Hitzlsperger fouled Nigel De Jong.
The dismissal failed to knock Stuttgart from their side stride and five minutes after half-time, Meira buried a header from Pardo's corner past Rost.
Inevitably, the visitors eased up and Hamburg pulled one back in the 67th minute when substitute Piotr Trochowski's mis-hit landed at Jarolim's feet, who beat Meira and placed his shot low past keeper Timo Hildebrand.
Eight minutes later, substitute Olic got a lucky bounce back into his path from his initial shot and he did not pass up the opportunity to slot past Hildebrand from nine yards out.