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New stadium kind to Mulder: Cards pitcher homers, earns W over Brewers

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The new Busch Stadium was both a hitter's and
pitcher's park in its opening game -- at least for Mark Mulder.

The Cardinals' left-hander worked into the ninth inning and hit
his first career home run to help St. Louis beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 on Monday in the first major-league game at the $365
million ballpark.

"It was just his day," the Brewers' Bill Hall said. "And
there's nothing we could do about it."

Mulder batted only .145 in his first NL season last year. But
the exploits of Jason Marquis, who batted .310 with a homer and 10
RBI, and the rest of a staff that keeps close track of its hitting
gave him incentive to improve his offense.

"He's happy for me, but I think way deep down inside he's
mad," Mulder said of Marquis. "He just won't admit it. They
already said I'm icing my back because I was swinging too hard."

Scott Rolen's two-run double in the fourth off Tomo Ohka (0-1)
gave the Cardinals the lead for good and Albert Pujols hit his
fourth homer, a drive to the left-center power alley estimated at
445 feet.

The Cardinals' first full day at the new ballpark began on a
festive note, with Pujols and Chris Carpenter, the NL MVP and Cy
Young Award winners, throwing out dual ceremonial first pitches to
retired Cardinals greats Willie McGee and Bob Gibson. It stayed
festive most of the day for a sellout crowd of 41,936 anxious for
something positive after the Cardinals got swept at Chicago.

"It's nice to be home," Jim Edmonds said. "It's been a long
six weeks in spring training and then start off on the road. It's a
beautiful place and I'm glad we could pull out a win for
everybody."

Before Monday, the Cardinals only had a brief walkthrough and
tour of the stadium. Sidney Ponson was the only major-leaguer to
participate in a game involving the franchise's top farm clubs last
Tuesday, with the rest of the Cardinals in Philadelphia for their
season-opening series.

"There's a lot of pieces that remind you of the old Busch,
especially in a 3 o'clock game when it's about 5 and you can't
hardly see," manager Tony La Russa said. "It think it's a
beautiful ballpark."

Hall's two-run homer in the second was the only damage off
Mulder (1-0). Hall was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles for
Milwaukee, which has lost two straight after a 5-0 start that put
the Brewers in the NL Central lead.

But they put a scare into the Cardinals with two runs in the
ninth and the go-ahead run at the plate.

"We've got a bunch of young kids that have a lot of heart,"
manager Ned Yost said. "Anytime you're down four runs and get the
winning run to the plate in the ninth you've done something."

Mulder allowed seven hits in eight-plus innings, struck out five
and walked one. He also was 2-for-3 with a double on a hop off the
center-field wall and a walk -- coming in he had a .116 career
average with four RBI in 86 at-bats.

"Mulder's always tough," the Brewers' Geoff Jenkins said after
going 2-for-3 against him with a pair of singles. "He makes great
pitches and always hits his spots."

Mulder's two-run shot off Jose Capellan in the seventh put the
Cardinals ahead 6-2. The double was his first career extra-base
hit.

"Going around second, I really didn't feel anything," Mulder
said. "I was just trying not to smile or laugh running around the
bases, because I wanted to. It was a cool experience, but I'm sure
there's probably not a good chance of that happening any more this
year."

Mulder also started the final home opener at the old Busch
Stadium last year in addition to pitching the final game at the
40-year-old park last fall in a Game 6 NL Championship Series loss
to the Houston Astros.

After Jenkins led off with a bloop single in the ninth,
Braden Looper came in and got Carlos Lee to ground into a double
play. Hall then doubled and scored on a single by Rickie Weeks.

St. Louis brought in Jason Isringhausen, who allowed Michael Barrett's go-ahead grand slam in an 8-4 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley
Field on Sunday night. Isringhausen gave up Prince Fielder's RBI
single and walked pinch-hitter Corey Koskie before retiring Gabe Gross, another pinch-hitter, on a groundout for his third save.

"It was fun to get out there again," Isringhausen said. "When
things are going bad, it seems like it snowballs, but things will
be fine."

Ohka gave up four runs, six hits and four walks in four innings.

"Tomo just kind of struggled all day with command," Yost said.

After the Cardinals left the bases loaded in the first and
stranded two in the second, Pujols homered leading off the third
and Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning. Rolen's
go-ahead homer gave him nine RBI to tie for the team lead with
Pujols -- Rolen had a career-low 28 last year, when a shoulder
injury limited him to 56 games.

Game notes
Lee singled in the second, the 14th time he reached base in
26 plate appearances. But he was hitless the rest of the way,
finishing 1-for-4 with a pair of double-play balls.