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Cards tee off on Willis, give Mulder 100th win

MIAMI (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals rocked Dontrelle Willis for
seven runs in the first five innings, and they needed every one of
them.

St. Louis nearly blew a seven-run lead but hung on to beat the
Florida Marlins 7-6 Saturday night, giving Mark Mulder his 100th
career win.

"It was a little crazy," said Jason Isringhausen, who gave up
two hits and walk but earned his eighth save in 10 chances. "We
got through it."

After falling behind 7-0, the Marlins scored three runs in the
fifth inning, then added three in the eighth on Josh Willingham's
seventh home run and a two-run single by Hanley Ramirez.

Isringhausen struck out Dan Uggla with two on to end the inning,
then pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth.

Mulder (3-1) allowed three runs in six innings, drove in a run
with a double and improved his career record to 100-51.

"A hundred is cool, but there's a lot more to go after this,"
the left-hander said. "Once you get it you say, 'You know what?
Let's work on getting No. 200.' It makes it that more fun."

The 28-year-old Mulder has 91 wins since 2001, the most in the
major leagues.

Willis (1-3) lasted only 4 2/3 innings while giving up a
career-high 12 hits -- including four doubles and a triple -- and
seven runs, six earned. In his past two starts he has allowed 14
earned runs, hiking his ERA to 5.15.

"He didn't seem like he was going right at the hitters," said
Juan Encarnacion, who hit a two-run triple. "He seemed to be
nibbling."

After leaving the game, Willis had an animated conversation in
the dugout with manager Joe Girardi that lasted more than an
inning.

"I just told him, 'I'm going to get it done. Don't lose
confidence in me,'" said Willis, who led the major leagues with 22
wins last year.

Said Girardi: "I told him, 'Things will get much better. Don't
worry. Don't panic.' Things will get better, because he's too
good."

The Marlins fell to 2-8 in one-run games, and they've lost nine
consecutive home games, two shy of the club record set in 1999.

The Cardinals, who came to town saddled with a four-game losing
streak, will try for a three-game series sweep Sunday. They have
won their past four series in Miami.

Florida limited major league home run leader Albert Pujols to a
single in five at-bats, leaving him 4-for-19 this week. But Scott
Rolen went 3-for-5 and Jim Edmonds went 2-for-2 with two walks and
a sacrifice fly.

St. Louis, which scored seven runs in the fifth to break open
Friday's game, this time scored five in the fifth.

Hector Luna led off the inning with a double, Pujols singled and
both scored on Encarnacion's triple. Edmonds hit a sacrifice fly,
So Taguchi singled, and Yadier Molina and Mulder hit back-to-back
RBI doubles to make it 7-0 and end Willis' night after 103 pitches.

"My morale is still good," Willis said following his 100th
career start. "This isn't the first time I've struggled, and it
won't be the last."

Willis was on the verge of escaping a bases-loaded jam in the
second, but an 0-2 pitch to Mulder eluded catcher Miguel Olivo for
a passed ball and an unearned run. Mulder struck out on the next
pitch to end the inning.

Rolen singled to start the fourth, and Edmonds singled by
throwing his bat at a 1-2 pitch. Rolen scored on an RBI groundout
by Taguchi, which third baseman Miguel Cabrera mishandled for his
eighth error.

Willis retired the next three batters to keep the score at 2-0 --
but only until the next inning.

Mulder took a shutout into the fifth before Florida scored three
times on an RBI double by Ramirez and a two-run double by Cabrera.

"I got stupid there," Mulder said. "I just tried to get outs
instead of focusing on making pitches."

Cabrera singled to start the ninth, but Joe Borchard grounded
sharply into a game-ending 3-6-3 double play.

"It would have been nice to get that win, because we deserved
it," Borchard said. "There's no quit in this team."

Game notes
Mulder, who gave up eight runs in his only previous game
against Florida, lowered his ERA versus the Marlins to 10.24. ...
Willis' record fell to 47-30. ... Former Florida manager Jack
McKeon is attending the series -- his first appearance at the
Marlins' stadium since he quit after last season.<