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Mulder, Cards offense too much for Padres

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

ST. LOUIS -- When Mark Mulder took a line drive off his arm in the second inning and doubled over in pain, the St. Louis Cardinals figured it would be a short outing for their 16-game winner.

Instead, Mulder shook off the hard shot to his left biceps from Joe Randa -- the same way he tossed aside a pair of poor tuneup starts -- and put his team on the brink of a playoff sweep.

Mulder pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning and the Cardinals once again built an early lead, beating the San Diego Padres 6-2 Thursday for a 2-0 edge in their best-of-5 NL series.

"Once the inning starts there's so much adrenaline it didn't bother me much," Mulder said. "If I couldn't have made good pitches I would have said 'All right, I've had enough.'

"I didn't want to come out of that game."

Matt Morris will try to clinch it for St. Louis on Saturday at San Diego against Woody Williams. Mulder was with the Oakland Athletics when they squandered a 2-0 lead against the Red Sox in 2003.

"We held home-field advantage," David Eckstein said. "One thing we've got to do, we've got to stay aggressive. We can't wait to get over there."

The Cardinals, who led the majors with 100 wins this season, have advanced to the NL Championship Series four times in five chances under manager Tony La Russa. San Diego, which limped into the playoffs with an 82-80 record, hasn't shown any signs of stopping them.

"We've put pressure on that team, we just haven't come up with the big hit yet," Brian Giles said. "We're playing for our lives now."

The 2003 Red Sox were the last of the seven teams that have rallied from a 2-0 deficit in division series play.

Mulder was 16-8 in his first season since being acquired from Oakland, but gave up seven earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in two starts after the Cardinals clinched the NL Central. Plus, the lefty was a decidedly better pitcher at night (14-3, 2.26 ERA) than day (2-5, 6.86).

Mulder scoffed at both of those trends the day before Game 2, blanking a lineup stacked with seven right-handed hitters until the late innings and backed by four double plays, tying the NLDS record. Mulder induced 13 groundball outs and only one fly out.

"I like using my defense; that's why when you give up a hit I'm not going to be that mad," Mulder said. "The next pitch you can get a double play. That's part of my game in a way."

Mulder kept the arm loose between innings by retreating to the clubhouse and applying a heat pack. After the game he said it looked like he had a "golf ball" on his biceps but said it was just a bruise.

He blamed himself for not fielding Randa's liner, or at least not getting out of the way.

"Randa has raked me all season," Mulder said. "So I should have been ready for it."

The Cardinals' first four runs came on balls that didn't leave the infield -- or in one case, even the catcher's glove. Eckstein had a run-scoring groundout and a squeeze bunt, Yadier Molina had an RBI grounder and Albert Pujols drew a bases-loaded walk to finish Pedro Astacio after four innings.

As in Tuesday's opener, when the Cardinals took an eight-run lead behind Chris Carpenter before the Padres rallied in an 8-5 loss, it became a little closer at the end.

A double by Khalil Greene, a single by Randa and Xavier Nady's run-scoring single cut the deficit to 4-1.

Reggie Sanders, who drove in an NLDS-record six runs in Game 1, hit a two-run double off Rudy Seanez in the seventh that made it 6-1. Sanders has eight RBI in eight at-bats this series after totaling five RBI in five previous division series appearances covering 68 at-bats.

The Padres scored another run in the eighth when Julian Tavarez hit Nady with the bases loaded, but San Diego left the bases loaded when Randy Flores struck out pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney.

La Russa used Flores instead of primary left-handed reliever Ray King, whose father died earlier Thursday after a long illness.

St. Louis became adept at maximizing every opportunity in the middle of the season when the lineup was missing Sanders, Molina, Scott Rolen, and Larry Walker. La Russa learned to love the squeeze bunt, going 13-for-16 with that aggressive tactic and getting a pair of game-winners from Eckstein, and in Game 2 the Cardinals' offense thrived despite going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

After retiring the side in order with the help of a double play in the first two innings, Astacio, who had a 2.20 ERA in his last seven regular-season starts, encountered nothing but trouble his last two innings.

The Cardinals scored twice without a hit in the third while taking advantage of Astacio's wildness and a San Diego fielding error, and twice more in the fourth with the help of a misplayed flyball that became a ground-rule double, alert baserunning and a perfectly executed squeeze by Eckstein.

"I know that at some point in time it's going to be on," Eckstein said. "I love it, it's one of my favorite plays."

Abraham Nunez started the third with a walk, Molina reached on Greene's fielding error at short and Mulder, who had only one sacrifice during the season, successfully bunted them over with two strikes.

Nady, the first baseman, went to his right to snare Eckstein's grounder but Nunez barely beat the throw home for the game's first run. Astacio then threw eight balls in a nine-pitch span that included Pujols' bases-loaded walk before recovering to strike out Walker and Sanders with the bases loaded to end the inning.


  • Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst threw out the first pitch with an underhanded toss.
  • The Cardinals share the single-game double-play record with the 2001 Astros and 1995 Braves.
  • Paid attendance of 52,599 was the largest crowd of the season at 40-year-old Busch Stadium, which is being demolished after the season.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Mark Mulder scatters eight hits and strikes out two over 6 2/3 innings, while allowing just one run.
Mark Mulder scatters eight hits and strikes out two over 6 2/3 innings, while allowing just one run. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0
San Diego

X. Nady
AB 2
R 0
H 1
HR 0

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San Diego Padres
Eric Young, LF3000001 .200
   a- Ryan Klesko, PH-LF2000012 .333
Mark Loretta, 2B5010000 .200
Ramon Hernandez, C4120001 .333
Brian Giles, CF-RF3000102 .250
Khalil Greene, SS3120102 .500
Joe Randa, 3B4030001 .429
Xavier Nady, 1B2012000 .333
Ben Johnson, RF2000023 .000
    Clay Hensley, P0000000 .000
   b- Miguel Olivo, PH1000001 .000
    Rudy Seanez, P0000000 .000
   c- Mark Sweeney, PH1000013 .667
    Akinori Otsuka, P0000000 .000
Pedro Astacio, P1000003 .000
   d- Damian Jackson, PH-CF10100001.000
   e- Dave Roberts, PH1000000 .250
a-flied out for Young in the 7th
b-grounded into a double play for Hensley in the 7th
c-struck out for Seanez in the 8th
d-singled for Astacio in the 5th
e-flied out for Jackson in the 9th
2B - Khalil Greene (2, Mulder)
RBI - Xavier Nady 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Xavier Nady (1)
Team LOB - 9
DP - Greene-Loretta-Nady
E - Khalil Greene (2, Misplayed grounder)
San Diego Padres
Pedro Astacio (L,0-1) 4342340 4.50
Clay Hensley 2100100 0.00
Rudy Seanez 1222120 18.00
Akinori Otsuka 1000000 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Pedro Astacio 80-46, Clay Hensley 35-22, Rudy Seanez 24-14, Akinori Otsuka 8-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Pedro Astacio 8-2, Clay Hensley 2-4, Akinori Otsuka 2-1
Batters Faced - Pedro Astacio 20, Clay Hensley 8, Rudy Seanez 6, Akinori Otsuka 3
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4012001 .222
Jim Edmonds, CF2100202 .500
Albert Pujols, 1B3121101 .500
Larry Walker, RF4000036 .000
Reggie Sanders, LF4012014 .375
    So Taguchi, LF0000000 .000
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4110012 .125
Abraham Nunez, 3B3210101 .333
Yadier Molina, C4101000 .125
Mark Mulder, P1000112 .000
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
   a- John Gall, PH1000000 .000
    Jason Isringhausen, P0000000 .000
a-grounded out for Flores in the 8th
2B - Reggie Sanders (1, Seanez), Abraham Nunez (1, Astacio)
SH - David Eckstein (1), Mark Mulder (1)
RBI - David Eckstein 2 (2), Albert Pujols (1), Reggie Sanders 2 (8), Yadier Molina (1)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Eckstein-Grudzielanek-Pujols, Eckstein-Grudzielanek-Pujols, Pujols-Eckstein, Grudzielanek-Eckstein-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Mark Mulder (W,1-0) 6.2811120 1.35
Julian Tavarez (H,1) 1211100 9.00
Randy Flores (H,1) 0.1000010 6.75
Jason Isringhausen 1000010 5.40
HBP - Nady (by Mark Mulder), Jackson (by Mark Mulder), Nady (by Julian Tavarez)
Pitches-Strikes - Mark Mulder 87-56, Julian Tavarez 20-10, Randy Flores 5-3, Jason Isringhausen 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mark Mulder 13-1, Julian Tavarez 1-2
Batters Faced - Mark Mulder 27, Julian Tavarez 7, Randy Flores 1, Jason Isringhausen 3
Game Information
Attendance - 52599
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 61
Umpires - Home - Bill Hohn, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Angel A. Hernandez