Mark Mulder took another step on his road back to the Major Leagues.
Pitching in a game for the first time since June 20, the tall left-hander allowed two runs on two hits in five innings in Class A Quad Cities' 5-2 win against the Clinton LumberKings on Sunday night at John O'Donnell Stadium in Davenport, Iowa.
Mulder struck out one and walked two while coaxing seven groundouts and six flyouts. Mulder's only hits allowed were a second-inning double to John Mayberry and a fifth-inning homer by Carlos Dominguez. At one point, Mulder retired 10 batters in a row.
On the disabled list since June 21 with an impingement in his left shoulder and irritation and inflammation in his left rotator cuff, Mulder had been attempting to gain full extension of his shoulder on each pitch. He tossed a simulated game at Busch Stadium on July 27, showing further signs of recovery.
"If he takes a few steps forward after he threw the other day against our hitters, that would be like winning a doubleheader today," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said after the Cards' 7-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
Several organization officials, including Cards assistant trainer Greg Hauck, attended the game.
"I will be just as anxious to hear the report," La Russa said. "He has a lot of importance for us."
Other members of the Cardinals rotation also welcomed the left-hander's return.
"He is a big key," Jeff Suppan said.
Mulder will likely throw Friday for Double-A Springfield or Triple-A Memphis. He could join the rotation for the Reds series Aug. 15-17 at Busch Stadium.
The left-hander, 6-5 with a 6.09 ERA in 15 starts, hasn't pitched in a Major League game since allowing nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the White Sox on June 20.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.