Mulder beat the Pirates for the fifth time in five career starts against them, allowing three hits over eight innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals got off to a good start on a season-high 13-game road trip by winning 3-1 on Monday night.
Abraham Nunez, a former Pirates infielder who was released by one of the majors' worst teams after last season only to hook on with one of its best, went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .311 for the Cardinals. The utility infielder drove in a run and figured in
both of their scoring innings.
A bad matchup on paper for the Pirates -- Mulder vs. Josh Fogg --
turned out to be exactly that as Mulder beat them for the third time in as many starts this season. Fogg (6-9) gave up three runs and 11 hits in five innings and is 1-8 with an 8.47 ERA in 10 career starts against the Cardinals, who improved their major league-best road record to 38-22.
Mulder (15-6) won his seventh in eight decisions and is now third in the NL in victories, even though it's teammate Carpenter, the NL All-Star Game starter, who is considered the Cardinals' staff ace.
"That's just fine with me," said Mulder, who has 87 wins since 2001. "I'm finally on a little bit of a roll here and I feel good out there. You go out and do your job and keep your team in the game each and every start, and you're going to end up getting wins out of it."
Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 36 opportunities as Mulder, denied his second consecutive complete game, was lifted after throwing 94 pitches.
"He was going to go through the lineup for a fourth time, and they're all dangerous guys, and if gets in trouble then Izzy has no room for error," manager Tony La Russa said. "There were a lot of reasons to go to Izzy there."
The Cardinals' eighth victory in 10 games against Pittsburgh this season was La Russa's 2,193rd as a manager, leaving him one behind Sparky Anderson for third place in major-league history.
Mulder was in little trouble except for the fourth, when the Pirates scored on singles by Michael Restovich and Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez's sacrifice fly. But they ran themselves out of a possibly bigger inning when Wilson, trying to score from second base on Sanchez's fly ball as left fielder So Taguchi momentarily lost track of the outs, was thrown out easily at the plate on shortstop David Eckstein's relay throw.
Asked what happened on the play, Taguchi said, laughing, "Two outs -- but that was my mistake."
"You could tell he thought it was the third out," Wilson said. "I don't think it was a bad play to go for it. But Eckstein made a good play."
The Pirates had only one more hit after that against Mulder, who was coming off a five-hit, 5-0 victory Wednesday over Arizona.
As usual, the Cardinals got off to a fast start against Fogg, who is having trouble beating anyone these days with six losses in eight decisions. Eckstein singled to stop an 0-for-15 slide and Larry Walker hit a bloop double to left ahead of Nunez's RBI single.
In the third, Jim Edmonds walked and Nunez singled, and Taguchi and Hector Luna followed with RBI singles. Luna was filling in for second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who missed a second consecutive game with an infected knee but could return to the lineup Thursday.
"I was trying to get them to put the ball in play but not get the real good part of the bat on it, but they found some holes," Fogg said.
Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee while being clipped by Luna on a double-play grounder in the third. Castillo was placed on the disabled list after the game and will have an MRI on Tuesday.
Nunez hit .236 in 112 games for Pittsburgh last season. He has never hit higher than .262 in eight major-league seasons. ... The Cardinals' Yadier Molina went 0-for-4 after previously being 17-of-36 against Pittsburgh this season. ... Pirates left-hander Oliver Perez (broken left big toe) gave up seven hits and two runs, both in the first inning, in a four-inning rehabilitation start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday night, his first uting since late June. ... St. Louis has won 15 of 17 from the Pirates since last season and is 41-20 against them since 2002. ... The road trip is the Cardinals' longest since 2002. ... The Pirates called up their Opening Day third baseman, Ty Wigginton, from Triple-A Indianapolis to replace Castillo.