Mulder faces tough task in Phillies

Mulder faces tough task in Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Joel Pineiro had to wait a while between wins, but he's got nothing on Mark Mulder.

More than two years after his last big league victory, Mulder will toe the rubber for the Cardinals against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night. It will be Mulder's first big league start since last September, and he'll be looking for his first Major League win since June 15, 2006.

Since that time, Mulder has undergone a pair of shoulder operations and made two abortive comeback attempts. In his third try at regaining his old form, he started by pitching in the bullpen. Now he's back where he feels most comfortable.

"I was completely fine with that [relieving]," he said. "I've said all along, I don't care what I do. Just to be out there throwing again is a good feeling. Obviously, I love starting, but even if I was in the 'pen the rest of the year, I wouldn't have cared."

He's starting, though -- and it's a doozy of a start. Mulder will be pitching in one of baseball's most unforgiving ballparks, against a lineup that has crushed left-handed starters.

"I think it will be a really difficult assignment," said manager Tony La Russa. "But there isn't anybody that he's bumping that gives us a better chance to win, even though it's really difficult for him."

Pitching matchup
STL: LHP Mark Mulder (0-0, 13.50 ERA)
With the Cardinals sending rookie right-hander Mitchell Boggs down to Triple-A Memphis, Mulder will make his first start of the year and his first since Sept. 16. Thus far, Mulder has made two appearances out of the bullpen for the Cardinals and with mixed results. In his first trip out of the 'pen, Mulder threw one inning and gave up two hits. But in his most recent appearance, Mulder struggled and lasted only one-third of an inning while giving up two runs.

PHI: LHP J.A. Happ (0-0, 3.86 ERA)
Happ made his first start of 2008 on Friday, lasting 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits, striking out three and walking four. Manager Charlie Manuel was noncommittal regarding whether Happ's Friday outing had earned him another start, though he said he was pleased with Happ's command. The lefty was called up to fill in for Brett Myers, who was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Tidbits
The Cardinals are 17-15 in games started by opposing lefties. ... St. Louis' 25-19 road record is the best in the National League. ... The Cardinals are 8-5 at Citizens Bank Park. ... Adam Kennedy has eight doubles in his last 12 games.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN, ESPN

On radio
• KTRS 550

Up next
• Thursday: Cardinals (Braden Looper, 9-6, 4.15) at Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 7-6, 4.12), 12:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 10-2, 3.61) at Pirates (Zach Duke, 4-5, 4.23), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Cardinals (TBD) at Pirates (Phil Dumatrait, 3-4, 5.26), 6:05 p.m. CT

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.