Mulder was far from brilliant Thursday at PNC Park, where he had been 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA. But, though he gave up four runs, he lasted five innings, just long enough to gain credit for a 6-5 victory.
Mulder twice gave up leads with solo homers to the first hitter he faced in the next inning. But a three-pronged bullpen corps of Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper and Jason Isringhausen (save No. 22) worked the last four innings in mostly strong fashion, with only Wainwright staggering a bit. Wainwright gave up a solo homer to pinch hitter Jeromy Burnitz in the sixth and than loaded the bases in the seventh but got out of that jam.
REPLAY: The Cardinals edged the Pirates 6-5 Thursday to win their second series on the six-game trip to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh by a 2-1 count. A lot of it had to do with rookie Chris Duncan, who tripled to key a two-run fourth and doubled to spark a two-run fifth. He also singled for a career-high three-hit game.
"I was able to get into some good hitter's counts," said the son of pitching coach Dave Duncan. "I was able to get ahead, and then I got the pitches I was looking for."
--RF Juan Encarnacion shot his average above the .270 mark (.272) for the first time this season with another two-hit game. He was 13-for-26 on the six-game road trip.
--C Gary Bennett handled LHP Mark Mulder for the first time this season. Mulder allowed his 15th and 16th home runs but walked only two while fanning six.
--The Cardinals return home only for three games (against Colorado) before going on a weeklong trip to meet the White Sox and the Tigers, who have the best records in the American League.
--RHP Jason Isringhausen has the major league lead in saves and has missed on just four of 26 opportunities.