Rusch (1-5, 7.05 ERA) began the season in the rotation but had little success, going 1-4 with an 8.46 ERA in five starts. He was moved to the bullpen after a 16-2 loss to Milwaukee on April 29 in which he gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings.
He rejoined the rotation when rookie Jae Kuk Ryu was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday, one day after giving up four homers in 1 1-3 innings of a 13-12 loss to Atlanta in his first career start.
Five of Rusch’s seven appearances as a reliever were scoreless, though he did allow three runs in four innings, striking out nine, after replacing Ryu against the Braves. The nine strikeouts were the most by a Cubs reliever since Bruce Sutter fanned nine against St. Louis on June 1, 1977.
The Cubs are coming off a wild 5-4, 14-inning victory Friday that took just over five hours to complete. The divisional rivals combined to use 16 pitchers, collect 35 hits—and leave 30 on base.
Jacque Jones homered for the third straight game and Michael Barrett, Ronny Cedeno and Pierre had three hits apiece for the Cubs (21-32), who improved to 5-2 against the Cardinals and won for just the fourth time in the their last 19 road games.
“Rarely do you come in here and win a game like that,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Hopefully the worm has turned and this is the way to start off June.”
Yadier Molina had four hits and Scott Rolen chipped in three for the Cardinals (34-20), but Rolen, a six-time Gold Glove winner, made a two-run error in the ninth on Walker’s grounder that allowed the Cubs to tie the game at 4-4.
Albert Pujols went 1-for-6 and struck out three times in one game for the first time since May 12, 2005 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a span of 178 games. Pujols, the majors’ leading home run hitter with 25, is hitting .208 (5-for-24) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last six games.
A return home may help Mulder (5-3, 4.52), who is 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA there compared to just 1-3 with a 7.22 ERA on the road. He has lost back-to-back starts and allowed a season-high eight runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 10-8 defeat to San Diego on Sunday.
Mulder is 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA lifetime against the Cubs.
Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds sat out his fourth straight game Friday with an abdominal strain that could land him on the disabled list. A return date has not been set for Edmonds, batting .241 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 43 games.