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Pittsburgh at St. Louis

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Pittsburgh (61-78) «0303110008120
St. Louis (68-68)002000000250

Pirates plunder Mulder in his return; Cardinals fall two back in NL Central

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder's first start in more than a year had the profile of a pitcher reining in his repertoire during spring training.

Too bad the St. Louis Cardinals need him to win now. And Mulder was no savior, getting roughed up by Pittsburgh in an 8-2 Pirates victory Wednesday night.

"Not what I was hoping for," Mulder said.

After overseeing the left-hander's latest bullpen session and a crisp pregame warmup, pitching coach Dave Duncan allowed himself to get excited. He said Mulder was hurt a bit by seeing-eye hits, and despite the bottom line gave him a positive review.

"I probably expected more than I should have," Duncan said. "He's discouraged because he knows what our situation is and he didn't do anything to help us.

"But he should not be discouraged. I expect he'll be better next time."

The left-hander who won 16 games in 2005 -- but was 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA in an injury-plagued 2006 -- lasted four innings and gave up six runs on eight hits. The Cardinals had hoped he would fortify the rotation in the final month, but instead dropped two games behind the first-place Cubs in the NL Central and also failed in a chance to go two games above .500 for the first time all season.

Mulder needed only nine pitches to get out of the first inning before running into trouble.

"I'm here to win a ballgame, and tonight was very disappointing because of the way I felt when the game started," Mulder said. "I was walking off after the first feeling great."

Ronny Paulino was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, Jack Wilson went 3-for-4 with a three-run double and Adam LaRoche was 2-for-4 with a home run for the Pirates, who won for only the second time in eight games. Tony Armas (3-5) worked six innings and limited St. Louis to two runs and five hits.

Entering the game, the Pirates were tied for the major league lead in runs since Aug. 1. Manager Jim Tracy said his offense is clicking against most pitchers.

"They're not getting themselves out, they're not missing balls over the middle of the plate," Tracy said. "That's how you become a good offensive club."

Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals, his seventh in 75 at-bats. It gave him 22 RBI in 22 games since the former pitcher returned to the major leagues as an outfielder on Aug. 9.

Mulder (0-1) made his last 2006 start on Aug. 29 and underwent rotator cuff surgery in September, missing the Cardinals' improbable World Series run. He had good success in four rehab starts despite fluctuating velocity that prompted him to ask that the radar gun be turned off for his final tuneup at Triple-A Memphis.

Pitch speeds were displayed on the Busch Stadium scoreboard for the first two hitters, then not again. Of Mulder's 59 pitches, 39 were strikes, and he struggled to find the plate mainly at the start of the fourth, when he opened with six consecutive balls.

Wilson was impressed, although he thought Mulder's two-seam fastball didn't have as much zip as it used to when he was with Oakland. Scouting reports had Mulder topping out at 86-87 mph, but the Pirates had him as fast as 92 mph on Wednesday.

"His velocity was real nice," Wilson said. "Once that two-seamer comes back, which I'm sure it will, he'll be back to his old self."

Mulder's biggest problem was hittable pitches. The Pirates reached him for three runs and four hits in the second, then three runs on three hits and a walk in the fourth.

"I probably liked him better than he liked himself," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "I think he was upset, but I saw quite a few things that I liked."

Armas has worked six innings in four of seven starts since returning to the Pirates' rotation on Aug. 1. But he was 0-2 while allowing 18 earned runs in 18 innings in his previous four outings.

Paulino also singled and is 8-for-11 in the first three games of a four-game series with two doubles, a home run and five RBI. In his past five games against St. Louis pitching he is 12-for-21 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

The Pirates led 6-0 before Ankiel's two-run shot in the third. LaRoche hit his 21st home run in the fifth and Cesar Izturis added an RBI single in the sixth, both off Brian Falkenborg.

Notes

  • The start was delayed 49 minutes by rain.
  • Wilson was 2-for-2 against Mulder after entering the game 3-for-17 against the left-hander.
  • LaRoche is batting .397 (25-for-63) in his past 16 road games.
  • Armas has allowed seven home runs in his past seven starts.
  • Wilson is 9-for-12 in the series and is batting .405 (34-for-84) with four home runs and 18 RBI since Aug. 1.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Yadier Molina tags out Jack Wilson here, but six runs in the first four innings help Pittsburgh cruise.  (AP)
Yadier Molina tags out Jack Wilson here, but six runs in the first four innings help Pittsburgh cruise. (AP)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

R. Paulino
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Pittsburgh

J. Wilson
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 3
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
Cesar Izturis, 3B4011101 .256
Jose Bautista, CF-RF5010014 .259
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4000011 .314
   a- Matt Kata, PH-2B1000001 .220
Adam LaRoche, 1B4221000 .269
Jason Bay, LF3210120 .254
Steve Pearce, RF4220002 .278
    Damaso Marte, P0000000 .000
    Matt Capps, P00000001.000
Ronny Paulino, C4223001 .256
Jack Wilson, SS4033000 .282
Tony Armas, P2000023 .130
    Shawn Chacon, P0000000 .273
    Nyjer Morgan, CF1000010 .267
Totals36812827  
a-popped out for F. Sanchez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Steve Pearce 2 (2, Mulder, Falkenborg), Jack Wilson 2 (24, Mulder, Mulder)
HR - Adam LaRoche (21, Falkenborg), Ronny Paulino (10, Mulder)
SH - Tony Armas (2)
RBI - Cesar Izturis (12), Adam LaRoche (81), Ronny Paulino 3 (46), Jack Wilson 3 (46)
2-OUT RBI - Cesar Izturis (6), Adam LaRoche (29)
CS - Cesar Izturis (2, 2nd base by Mulder/Molina)
Team LOB - 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
Tony Armas (W,3-5) 6522251 6.49
Shawn Chacon 1000100 4.01
Damaso Marte 1000120 2.08
Matt Capps 1000010 2.15
Pitches-Strikes - Tony Armas 96-58, Shawn Chacon 15-9, Damaso Marte 15-7, Matt Capps 9-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tony Armas 5-8, Shawn Chacon 1-2, Matt Capps 1-1
Batters Faced - Tony Armas 25, Shawn Chacon 4, Damaso Marte 4, Matt Capps 3
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS3120000 .296
   a- Brendan Ryan, PH-SS0000100 .331
Rick Ankiel, RF-CF4112002 .338
Albert Pujols, 1B2010200 .316
    So Taguchi, PR-LF0000000 .295
Jim Edmonds, CF3000023 .245
   b- Ryan Ludwick, PH-RF1000011 .247
Chris Duncan, LF-1B4000031 .261
Yadier Molina, C3000010 .277
    Kelly Stinnett, C1000001 .178
Russell Branyan, 3B3000100 .200
Mark Mulder, P10100001.000
   c- Brian Barden, PH1000000 .077
    Brian Falkenborg, P0000000 .000
    Todd Wellemeyer, P0000000 .091
   d- Miguel Cairo, PH-2B2000000 .233
Aaron Miles, 2B3000002 .299
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Johnson, P0000000 .000
   e- Skip Schumaker, PH1000010 .314
Totals3225248  
a-walked for Eckstein in the 7th
b-struck out for Edmonds in the 8th
c-grounded out for Mulder in the 4th
d-grounded out for Wellemeyer in the 7th
e-struck out for Johnson in the 9th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein (15, Armas), Albert Pujols (26, Armas)
HR - Rick Ankiel (7, Armas)
RBI - Rick Ankiel 2 (22)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Eckstein-Miles-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Mark Mulder (L,0-1) 4866111 13.50
Brian Falkenborg 2422031 5.79
Todd Wellemeyer 1000020 5.37
Randy Flores 1000000 4.56
Tyler Johnson 1000110 3.90
Pitches-Strikes - Mark Mulder 62-41, Brian Falkenborg 39-25, Todd Wellemeyer 10-7, Randy Flores 8-5, Tyler Johnson 18-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mark Mulder 6-3, Brian Falkenborg 1-2, Todd Wellemeyer 1-0, Randy Flores 2-1
Batters Faced - Mark Mulder 19, Brian Falkenborg 10, Todd Wellemeyer 3, Randy Flores 3, Tyler Johnson 4
Game Information
Attendance - 42299
Game Time - 2:32
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Mike Winters, Third Base - Bruce Froemming