Mulder (2-0, 3.86 ERA) is 5-0 lifetime against the Pirates with a 2.23 ERA. He was 3-0 last season in four appearances versus Pittsburgh.
The left-hander is in his seventh season in the majors—second with St. Louis—and is looking for his sixth straight 15-win season. He has the longest current streak of 15-plus win seasons among active pitchers.
Mulder is part of one of the major’s best pitching staffs, which enters Wednesday with a 3.39 ERA, the second-lowest in baseball behind the New York Mets (3.25). Mulder, Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan anchored last year’s rotation, winning 53 games en route to the club’s second straight NL Central title.
In his last start on Friday against the Chicago Cubs, Mulder went eight innings, giving up three runs and five hits in a 9-3 win for the Cardinals (13-7).
“That’s my game,” Mulder said. “My game revolves around my sinker. … When I have that, and I’m throwing strikes with it, in and out, obviously it opens up everything else for me.”
Juan Encarnacion provided most of the offense in Tuesday 6-3 win over the Pirates. The right fielder was 3-for-4 with a triple and a two-run homer and four RBIs. He is 4-for-8 in the series against the Pirates after beginning the week batting only .200.
Pittsburgh’s offense continues to struggle. The Pirates, who managed only four base hits in Tuesday’s game, have only nine runs during their losing streak and are batting .188 with 38 strikeouts over that span.
“I’m not saying that everyone is pressing,” Jason Bay said. “But I’m sure there are some guys, myself included, (who) are trying to do a little bit more than we should in certain situations.”
Before the losing streak, Bay was batting .327. He is 3-for-21 during the slide, including 0-for-4 on Tuesday to drop his average to .274.
The Pirates (5-17) have the worst record in the National League and have fallen 9 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the Central Division.
“The bottom line is we haven’t played near what we’re capable of—there’s still five months and some change to go. Just because we got off to a start like this doesn’t mean you just write off the season,” Bay said. “We have to go out there every day and work hard to try to turn this thing around.”
Pittsburgh has not dropped more than six in a row in a nine-game skid from June 5-15, 2004. The Pirates have lost eight of their last 10 games against the Cardinals.
St. Louis will likely be without third baseman Scott Rolen for a second straight game. Rolen has bronchitis and has been advised to stay away from the team.
“I’d go day to day, but I don’t think you should be surprised if he’s not available (Wednesday),” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.