The Earthquakes have become Real Salt Lake's worst nightmare.
Chris Wondolowski had a hat trick, and the Quakes beat Salt Lake for the third time this season, 5-0 Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The emphatic victory in front of a sellout crowd of 10,744 raised San Jose's lead over second-place Salt Lake in the MLS Western Conference to four points.
In a heated battle in which the teams combined for seven yellow cards -- five awarded to Salt Lake -- and a red card, the Quakes (12-4-4) scored four times with a man advantage in the final 32 minutes.
Chris Wondolowski raised his league-leading goals total to 17, and Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins also scored as the Quakes matched their largest margin of victory since a 5-0 victory over Dallas in 2000.
Dawkins made a triumphant return as a substitute after missing three weeks with a sprained left shoulder, scoring for third time this season. Gordon, filling in for Steven Lenhart (concussion), scored for the eighth time in just his fourth start.
Salt Lake (11-7-3) played a man down after Kyle Beckerman was ejected during a tumultuous sequence for arguing with the referee. The teams squared off when Beckerman appeared to foul Sam Cronin after the whistle and Cronin reacted angrily. When tempers calmed, Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola and the Quakes' Victor Bernardez also received yellow cards.
It was more misery for Real Salt Lake, which played two men down for the final 21minutes in a 3-1 loss to San Jose in April. Salt Lake then squandered scoring chances galore in a 2-1 loss to the Quakes at home on June 23.
Saturday, the Quakes led 1-0 on a brilliantly executed corner kick in the 18th minute. Marvin Chavez sent the ball in from the right to Gordon, who headed it to his right into traffic. Justin Morrow, a pushed-up defender, shot the ball across the goalmouth before Wondolowski scored from the far post.
But the hosts were frustrated not to score a few more in the first 45 minutes. Wondolowski, who was always in the thick of it, popped a header over the top from 6 yards out off a beautifully delivered cross from Marvin Chavez on the left in the 41st minute.
An unmarked Shea Salinas shot too high from the 18-yard stripe after receiving another Chavez cross.
Chavez tormented the Salt Lake defense with bursts of speed, and the Quakes' cool back four of center backs Victor Bernardez and Jason Hernandez, right back Steven Beitashour and left back Morrow had the answers against crafty Salt Lake.
Gordon and Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave had several physical confrontations in the first half. Olave received a yellow card for a hard knock on Gordon in the 44th minute.
Looking sharp from the outset, the Quakes nearly struck twice in the first 10 minutes.
Wondolowski headed a ball across the goalmouth from the left, and Gordon got a foot on it before Wondolowski's dead-on shot was knocked away by goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who was well off his line.
On another near-miss, Wondolowski shot inches wide from 18 yards out with his left foot in the ninth minute after a leaping Gordon pressured a defender into a blown clearance.
- The Quakes were playing at Buck Shaw Stadium for the first time since May 19, after 10 games at a variety of venues for road games and U.S. Open Cup home matches at Stanford and Kezar Stadium.
- Quakes defender Ramiro Corrales sat out the match, serving a one-game suspension after receiving two yellow cards in a draw with FC Dallas.