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Big Fish: Marlins trump Mulder's Cards, win 9th straight

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mark Mulder staggering down the comeback trail
was no match for the streaking Florida Marlins.

Dan Uggla homered and drove in four runs and Hanley Ramirez was
a home run shy of the cycle for the Florida Marlins, who won their
ninth straight by beating up Mulder and the St. Louis Cardinals 9-1
Tuesday night.

"We beat the Nationals and we beat Milwaukee, but this was a
test for us, to play a division-leading team," Wes Helms said.
"We did our job."

Mulder (6-7) lasted only 1 2-3 innings, matching the shortest
outing of his career. He gave up five runs on six hits in his
second start since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined
him for more than two months.

Mulder said he'd visit with George Paletta, the team orthopedic
consultant, on Wednesday.

"There's still something going on," Mulder said. "I'm
obviously not right out there. It's not pain, it's just not
right."

Scott Olsen allowed three hits in eight innings for Florida,
which matched its longest winning streak of the year while staying
close in the NL wild-card standings. The Marlins began a 12-game
trip without manager Joe Girardi, who stayed at home with his
pregnant wife while bracing for a possible hurricane.

Bench coach Gary Tuck, who filled in as interim manager, had it
easy after the Marlins knocked out Mulder.

"It's fun for me, but it's tough without Joe," Tuck said.
"Joe loves these kids and he's got them where they are now.

"I know he's back home somewhere enjoying it right now, but
obviously his family comes first."

Girardi is expected to join the Marlins, who are 54-35 since an
11-31 start, no later than Thursday. Florida, which also got a
homer from Josh Willingham, has outscored the opposition 53-29
during its winning streak.

Mulder, who entered this season as the winningest pitcher in the
major leagues from 2001-05, has a 7.14 ERA. In his first start at
home since June 3, Mulder struggled with both command and velocity,
throwing 25 balls and 24 strikes and clocking in the mid-80s,
according to the Busch Stadium radar.

"His velocity was down and it just didn't look like he had the
bite on his off-speed pitches," Helms said. "I've faced him in
years past and he can pop it pretty good and fool you pretty good
on off speed."

Helms had a run-scoring single in the first and a two-run single
to chase Mulder and cap a four-run second that put the Marlins
ahead 5-1. Ramirez had an RBI triple off the base of the
center-field wall and Uggla drove him in with a single earlier in
the inning.

Preston Wilson hit the first leadoff home run of his career in
the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1. Olsen (11-7) didn't
allow another hit until Gary Bennett singled to start the sixth,
and with the help of three double plays he faced only one over the
minimum through eight innings.

So thoroughly were the Cardinals dominated that they had no one
left on base.

"To pitch like that, that's the ultimate goal," Olsen said.
"Today was probably the best game I've had all year."

Olsen, a 22-year-old rookie, struck out four and walked one to
win his second straight start after losing three in a row, exiting
after throwing only 89 pitches. He also doubled and scored in the
sixth, flied out to the warning track in right in the seventh and
had a sacrifice bunt in the second.

Game notes
Mulder also lasted 1 2-3 innings Sept. 24, 2005, at
Milwaukee, giving up seven runs ... New St. Louis Blues chairman
Dave Checketts threw out the first pitch. ... Mulder is 2-5 with a
10.72 ERA on the road and 4-2 with a 4.03 ERA at home. ... Ramirez
is 9-for-18 with seven RBI against the Cardinals and his ninth
triple set a franchise record, giving him one more than Alex
Gonzalez in 1999. ... Willingham (20) and Uggla (24) are the
first-ever NL rookie teammates to hit 20 or more homers in a
season. Uggla's two-run homer in the eighth was estimated at 449
feet, the longest at new Busch Stadium and 3 feet longer than one
by Todd Hollandsworth of the Indians on June 25.