ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder started slow but finished strong.
Five batters into his rehabilitation start for Double-A Springfield, Mulder had allowed three runs, three walks and two hits without recording a single out. Over the next five innings, he allowed only one more run and one more walk. Perhaps most encouragingly, Mulder racked up five strikeouts -- three more than his previous two rehab games combined.
Mulder finished the game, his third Minor League rehab start, with four runs on six hits, five strikeouts and four walks. He permitted a solo home run to Matt Miller in the fifth inning, but otherwise was excellent after the first. Mulder got seven groundball outs against three in the air. He threw 84 pitches, 49 of them for strikes.
Mulder's next start is expected to come April 30. He could advance to pitch at Triple-A Memphis, or he could pitch at Springfield again. Both teams are home that day.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.