Mulder gets the hook, not Marlins

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Cardinals starter Mark Mulder, right, left the game as manager Tony La Russa, center, made a pitching change against the Marlins in the second inning Tuesday at Busch Stadium. Catcher Gary Bennett stood next to La Russa. (Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder staggering down the comeback trail was no match for the streaking Florida Marlins.

Dan Uggla homered and drove in four runs and Hanley Ramirez was a home run shy of the cycle for the Florida Marlins, who won their ninth straight by beating up Mulder and the St. Louis Cardinals 9-1 Tuesday night.

"We beat the Nationals and we beat Milwaukee, but this was a test for us, to play a division-leading team," Wes Helms said. "We did our job."

Mulder (6-7) lasted only 1 2/3 innings, matching the shortest outing of his career. He gave up five runs on six hits in his second start since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for more than two months.

Mulder said he'd visit with George Paletta, the team orthopedic consultant, today.

"There's still something going on," Mulder said. "I'm obviously not right out there. It's not pain, it's just not right."

Scott Olsen allowed three hits in eight innings for Florida, which matched its longest winning streak of the year while staying close in the NL wild-card standings. The Marlins began a 12-game trip without manager Joe Girardi, who stayed at home with his pregnant wife while bracing for a possible hurricane.

Bench coach Gary Tuck filled in as interim manager

Girardi is expected to join the Marlins, who are 54-35 since an 11-31 start, no later than Thursday. Florida, which also got a homer from Josh Willingham, has outscored the opposition 53-29 during its winning streak.

Mulder, who entered this season as the winningest pitcher in the major leagues from 2001 to 2005, has a 7.14 ERA. In his first start at home since June 3, Mulder struggled with both command and velocity, throwing 25 balls and 24 strikes and clocking in the mid-80s, according to the Busch Stadium radar.

"His velocity was down and it just didn't look like he had the bite on his off-speed pitches," Helms said. "I've faced him in years past and he can pop it pretty good and fool you pretty good on off speed."

Helms had a run-scoring single in the first and a two-run single to chase Mulder and cap a four-run second that put the Marlins ahead 5-1. Ramirez had an RBI triple off the base of the center-field wall and Uggla drove him in with a single earlier in the inning.

Preston Wilson hit the first leadoff home run of his career in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1. Olsen (11-7) didn't allow another hit until Gary Bennett singled to start the sixth, and with the help of three double plays he faced only one over the minimum through eight innings.

So thoroughly were the Cardinals dominated that they had no one left on base.

"To pitch like that, that's the ultimate goal," Olsen said. "Today was probably the best game I've had all year."

Olsen, a 22-year-old rookie, struck out four and walked one to win his second straight start after losing three in a row, exiting after throwing only 89 pitches. He also doubled and scored in the sixth, flied out to the warning track in right in the seventh and had a sacrifice bunt in the second.

Notes: Mulder also lasted 1 2-3 innings Sept. 24, 2005, at Milwaukee, giving up seven runs ... New St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts threw out the first pitch. ... Mulder is 2-5 with a 10.72 ERA on the road and 4-2 with a 4.03 ERA at home. ... Ramirez is 9-for-18 with seven RBIs against the Cardinals and his ninth triple set a franchise record, giving him one more than Alex Gonzalez in 1999. ... Willingham (20) and Uggla (24) are the first-ever NL rookie teammates to hit 20 or more homers in a season. Uggla's two-run homer in the eighth was estimated at 449 feet, the longest at new Busch Stadium and 3 feet longer than one by Todd Hollandsworth of the Indians on June 25.

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