SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Mark Mulder threw his reliable sinker as well as he has all season, and he made the same kind of quick work of the Giants that he used to of opponents across San Francisco Bay in Oakland.
Mulder pitched seven shutout innings in a triumphant return to the Bay Area, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Giants 3-1 on Friday night for their fifth victory in six games.
Mulder (10-5), pitching in the area for the first time since the Athletics traded him in December, won his second straight decision. He allowed four hits, struck out one and walked one in an impressive 73-pitch performance before he came out with a tweaked left groin that isn’t considered serious.
Some 15 friends were in the stands to support him.
“I had so much fun here, such a good experience,” Mulder said. “It almost feels like I’m coming back home, even though it’s the other side of the bay. It feels familiar, even the weather.”
On a night when mist hovered over the outfield for most of the game, Mulder improved to 6-2 in eight starts against San Francisco. The 6-foot-6 lefty needed only five pitches to get through each of the fourth and sixth innings— just the kind of efficiency the former A’s ace became known for in five seasons with Oakland.
“I had a good sinker and kept going to it,” he said. “I think I kept them off-balanced out there.”
On the first pitch Mulder threw to Jason Ellison in the seventh, the pitcher slipped and injured the groin.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said.
He was traded to the Cardinals in December, two days after the A’s dealt Tim Hudson to Atlanta and broke up the Big Three. Mulder outpitched Giants ace Jason Schmidt in their first head-to-head meeting.
Schmidt (6-5), who was trying to win for the fourth time in five starts, allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked four. He allowed runners in all but the second and sixth innings.
The right-hander bit his lip in apparent frustration after giving up two straight walks in the fifth, then received a visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti and catcher Mike Matheny moments later. He then struck out Scott Rolen.
Walker hit his 10th homer in the first, sending the first pitch from Schmidt deep into McCovey Cove. The ball landed some 30 feet out in the water near a buoy—a shot that traveled an estimated 455 feet.
“(John) Mabry said the Coast Guard’s looking for me,” said Walker, who will get Saturday’s day game off to nurse what manager Tony La Russa called “a couple sore spots.”
“Basically, it was one bad pitch,” Schmidt said. “It was exactly the one pitch I didn’t want to throw to Walker—a fastball that ran right over the plate. The changeup to Sanders was the pitch I wanted to throw, so I’ve got to tip my hat to him.”
Sanders connected for his 18th homer of the season leading off the fourth.
San Francisco second baseman Ray Durham returned to the lineup and led off after missing the previous two games with a strained left wrist. He went 0-for-4 with a walk.
Matheny received his third career Gold Glove award from La Russa before Matheny faced his former team. La Russa and the entire Cardinals team came out to greet Matheny with a hug and handshake at home plate just before first pitch. And Matheny received a lengthy standing ovation from the SBC Park crowd.
Giants manager Felipe Alou announced afterward that Schmidt, Noah Lowry and Brett Tomko would start in Los Angeles in the team’s first series after the All-Star break. … The Giants optioned infielder Brian Dallimore to Triple-A Fresno after the game and recalled RHP Brad Hennessey to start Saturday. … With Sunday’s ESPN night game, both La Russa and Alou—a coach on La Russa’s All-Star staff—had to scramble to find the fastest way to Detroit. “I think an Extremely Selfish Programming Network is going to try to get us there,” La Russa said. Alou will fly commercial on a redeye after the game. … Mulder has gone six or more innings in 13 of his 18 starts. … Schmidt is just 1-4 vs. St. Louis since joining the Giants in 2001. … SBC Park was sold out for the ninth time this year (41,405).