PITTSBURGH — Mark Mulder finally ended a slide that began late last season. The Pittsburgh Pirates only wish they could do the same.
Mulder, the Cardinals’ top offseason pickup, halted a personal nine-game winless streak by allowing two hits over eight innings to lead the Cardinals past the struggling Pirates 11-1 on Monday night.
The Cardinals broke open a 2-1 game with nine runs in the ninth against relievers Brian Meadows and Ryan Vogelsong to win their fourth in a row. Pittsburgh lost its fourth in five games and its eighth straight to St. Louis since last season.
Jim Edmonds hit a home run and So Taguchi tripled during a two-run second against Dave Williams (1-1) and the Cardinals also benefited from some bad Pirates baserunning, even if it did account for their only run.
The left-handed Mulder (1-1) was roughed up for 10 earned runs in 11 innings in his first two Cardinals starts. That poor performance was an extension of a late-season slump last year when he went 0-4 in his final seven starts before he was dealt to St. Louis.
But Mulder didn’t allow a runner until walking Daryle Ward to start the fifth or a hit until Freddy Sanchez followed with a single under third baseman Scott Rolen’s glove.
“I’ve felt better every start, and this wasn’t that much different from my last start,” Mulder said. “Lately when I’ve made a mistake, they’re hit. Today I didn’t make as many mistakes and when I did, they didn’t hurt.”
Mulder struck out two and walked three in his first victory since a 6-2 decision over Baltimore on Aug. 24.
“I think you saw more of what he’s capable of doing,” manager Tony La Russa said. “The ball had good life, he had a bunch of ways to get hitters out. He needed some success and that’s what happened. He got his first win and now we’ll see if he can build on that.”
Later in the fifth, Ward appeared to be out by 10 feet while trying to score on David Ross’ medium-range fly ball to left, but Ward’s hard slide knocked the ball out of catcher Yadier Molina’s glove.
A similar gamble didn’t work nearly as well an inning later. Matt Lawton, who had walked, tried to score the tying run from first on Craig Wilson’s double, but Reggie Sanders threw him out.
The nine-run ninth started after left fielder Craig Wilson allowed pinch-hitter Larry Walker’s line drive to bounce past him for an RBI double. Wilson was not given an error. David Eckstein added a run-scoring infield single. Taguchi had a two-run single and finished with three RBIs, and pinch-hitter Roger Cedeno had a three-run double.
An 0-for-15 slide had dropped Molina’s average to .032 until he singled in his final three at-bats.
“It was a great game for 8 1/3 innings, until things fell apart,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “The next thing you knew, they’d scored 10 runs.”
The Pirates have scored a major league-low 38 runs and have been limited to three runs or fewer in 10 of 13 games. They have dropped 37 of 55 dating to late August, about the time Mulder got his most recent win before Monday.
McClendon held a brief team meeting to instruct his players to ignore the negative talk that’s been building during their 4-9 start.
“The talk shows are going to say I’m a (bad) manager and should be fired and the team played (bad),” McClendon said. “That I’m a (bad) manager and they’re (bad) players. But we’ve played only 13 games ... and we’ve got to stick together and play hard and work hard and, a week from now, they won’t remember this. We’ll win five or six in a row and they’ll call it a miracle.”
Meadows disliked that the Pirates wasted Williams’ excellent start, two runs and six hits allowed in six innings.
“Everything seems to be going against us,” Meadows said. “It’s a 162-game season, but we’ve got to turn things around before it really gets bad.”