<
>

Mulder ends nine-game losing streak

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Mark Mulder finally ended a slide that began
late last season. The Pittsburgh Pirates only wish they could.

Mulder, the Cardinals' top offseason pickup, halted a personal
nine-game winless streak by allowing two hits over eight innings to
lead the Cardinals past the struggling Pirates 11-1 Monday night.

The Cardinals broke open a 2-1 game with nine runs in the ninth
against relievers Brian Meadows and Ryan Vogelsong to win their
fourth in a row. Pittsburgh lost its fourth in five games and its
eighth straight to St. Louis since last season.

The Pirates have scored a major league-low 38 runs and have been
limited to three runs or fewer in 10 of 13 games. They have dropped
37 of 55 dating to late August -- about the time Mulder got his last
win before Monday.

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon held a brief team meeting to
instruct his players to ignore the negative talk that's been
building during their 4-9 start.

"The talk shows are going to say I'm a [bad] manager and should
be fired and the team played [bad]," McClendon said. "That I'm a
[bad] manager and they're [bad] players. But we've played only 13
games ... and we've got to stick together and play hard and work
hard and, a week from now, they won't remember this. We'll win five
or six in a row and they'll call it a miracle."

Jim Edmonds homered and So Taguchi tripled during a two-run
second against Dave Williams (1-1) and the Cardinals also benefited
from some bad Pirates baserunning -- even if it did account for
their only run.

The left-handed Mulder (1-1), formerly one of Oakland's Big
Three rotation of Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, was roughed up
for 10 earned runs in 11 innings in his first two Cardinals starts.
That poor performance was an extension of a late-season slump last
year when he went 0-4 in his final seven starts, before he was
dealt to St. Louis.

But Mulder didn't allow a runner until walking Daryle Ward to
start the fifth or a hit until Freddy Sanchez followed with a
single under third baseman Scott Rolen's glove.

"I've felt better every start, and this wasn't that much
different from my last start," Mulder said. "Lately when I've
made a mistake, they're hit. Today I didn't make as many mistakes
and when I did, they didn't hurt."

Mulder struck out two and walked three in his first victory
since a 6-2 decision over Baltimore on Aug. 24.

"I think you saw more of what he's capable of doing," manager
Tony La Russa said. "The ball had good life, he had a bunch of
ways to get hitters out. He needed some success and that's what
happened. He got his first win and now we'll see if he can build on
that."

Later in the fifth, Ward appeared to be out by 10 feet while
trying to score on David Ross' medium-range fly ball to left, but
Ward's hard slide knocked the ball out of catcher Yadier Molina's
glove.

A similar gamble didn't work nearly as well an inning later.
Matt Lawton, who had walked, tried to score the tying run from
first on Craig Wilson's double, but was thrown out easily by left
fielder Reggie Sanders.

The nine-run ninth started after left fielder Craig Wilson
allowed pinch-hitter Larry Walker's line drive to bounce past him
for an RBI double. Wilson was not given an error. David Eckstein
added a run-scoring infield single, Taguchi had a two-run single --
he finished with three RBI -- and pinch-hitter Roger Cedeno had a
three-run double.

"It was a great game for 8 1/3 innings, until things fell
apart," McClendon said. "The next thing you knew, they'd scored
10 runs."

Meadows disliked that the Pirates wasted Williams' excellent
start, two runs and six hits allowed in six innings.

"Everything seems to be going against us," Meadows said.
"It's a 162-game season, but we've got to turn things around
before it really gets bad."

Game notes
Mulder was 0-5 with an 8.28 ERA during his nine-game
winless streak. He is 3-0 in three career starts against
Pittsburgh. ... The Cardinals' Albert Pujols went 0-for-4. He has
14 homers and 42 RBI in 34 career games at PNC Park. ... An
0-for-15 slide dropped Molina's average to .032 until he singled in
his final three at-bats. ... The Cardinals won 12 of 17 from the
Pirates last season, seven of 10 in PNC Park. ... The nine-run
ninth was the biggest against Pittsburgh since a 10-run Cardinals
inning on Aug. 19, 2003. The pennant-winning Cardinals' biggest
inning last season while leading the NL in scoring was six runs, on
multiple occasions.