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Mulder sharp in seven-inning performance

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Mark Mulder threw his reliable sinker as
well as he has all season, and he made the same kind of quick work
of the Giants that he used to of opponents across San Francisco Bay
in Oakland.

Mulder pitched seven shutout innings in a triumphant return to
the Bay Area, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Giants 3-1
on Friday night for their fifth victory in six games.

Mulder (10-5), pitching in the area for the first time since the
Athletics traded him in December, won his second straight decision.
He allowed four hits, struck out one and walked one in an
impressive 73-pitch performance before he came out with a tweaked
left groin that isn't considered serious.

Some 15 friends were in the stands to support him.

"I had so much fun here, such a good experience," Mulder said.
"It almost feels like I'm coming back home, even though it's the
other side of the bay. It feels familiar, even the weather."

Larry Walker hit a two-run homer and Reggie Sanders added a solo
shot as the Cardinals won for the sixth time in eight games.

Al Reyes allowed a two-out solo home run to Pedro Feliz in the
eighth to spoil a chance for the team's eighth shutout. Jason
Isringhausen worked the ninth for his 24th save in 26 chances.

On a night when mist hovered over the outfield for most of the
game, Mulder improved to 6-2 in eight starts against San Francisco.
The 6-foot-6 lefty needed only five pitches to get through each of
the fourth and sixth innings -- just the kind of efficiency the
former A's ace became known for in five seasons with Oakland.

"I had a good sinker and kept going to it," he said. "I think
I kept them off-balanced out there."

On the first pitch Mulder threw to Jason Ellison in the seventh,
the pitcher slipped and injured the groin.

"It's not a big deal," he said.

He was traded to the Cardinals in December, two days after the
A's dealt Tim Hudson to Atlanta and broke up the Big Three. Mulder
outpitched Giants ace Jason Schmidt in their first head-to-head
meeting.

Schmidt (6-5), who was trying to win for the fourth time in five
starts, allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings, struck
out five and walked four. He allowed runners in all but the second
and sixth innings.

The right-hander bit his lip in apparent frustration after
giving up two straight walks in the fifth, then received a visit
from pitching coach Dave Righetti and catcher Mike Matheny moments
later. He then struck out Scott Rolen.

Walker hit his 10th homer in the first, sending the first pitch
from Schmidt deep into McCovey Cove. The ball landed some 30 feet
out in the water near a buoy -- a shot that traveled an estimated
455 feet.

"[John] Mabry said the Coast Guard's looking for me," said
Walker, who will get Saturday's day game off to nurse what manager
Tony La Russa called "a couple sore spots."

Walker became the ninth opposing player to hit a splash homer.
Arizona's Luis Gonzalez has done it twice, while Barry Bonds has 31
splash homers.

"Basically, it was one bad pitch," Schmidt said. "It was
exactly the one pitch I didn't want to throw to Walker -- a fastball
that ran right over the plate. The changeup to Sanders was the
pitch I wanted to throw, so I've got to tip my hat to him."

Walker's infield single in the third loaded the bases after a
two-out double by Jim Edmonds and a walk to Albert Pujols. But
Rolen lined out to third to end the threat.

Sanders connected for his 18th homer of the season leading off
the fourth.

San Francisco second baseman Ray Durham returned to the lineup
and led off after missing the previous two games with a strained
left wrist. He went 0-for-4 with a walk.

Matheny received his third career Gold Glove award from La Russa
before Matheny faced his former team. La Russa and the entire
Cardinals team came out to greet Matheny with a hug and handshake
at home plate just before first pitch. And Matheny received a
lengthy standing ovation from the SBC Park crowd.

Game notes
Giants manager Felipe Alou announced afterward that
Schmidt, Noah Lowry and Brett Tomko would start in Los Angeles in
the team's first series after the All-Star break. ... The Giants
optioned infielder Brian Dallimore to Triple-A Fresno after the
game and recalled RHP Brad Hennessey to start Saturday. ... With
Sunday's ESPN night game, both La Russa and Alou -- a coach on La
Russa's All-Star staff -- had to scramble to find the fastest way to
Detroit. "I think an Extremely Selfish Programming Network is
going to try to get us there," La Russa said. Alou will fly
commercial on a redeye after the game. ... Mulder has gone six or
more innings in 13 of his 18 starts. ... Schmidt is just 1-4 vs.
St. Louis since joining the Giants in 2001. ... SBC Park was sold
out for the ninth time this year (41,405).