MLB Insiders - Nightmare on W 35th St.

LHP Mark Mulder hasn't won since May 17, when he worked 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the Mets. He had been 5-1 at U.S. Cellular Field, just a few miles from where he grew up in the Chicago suburbs, before he allowed nine runs on 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings Tuesday.

MLB Insiders

Several changes in the Cardinals' pitching staff are likely to take place after Tuesday night's 20-6 drubbing by the Chicago White Sox, marking the most runs the Cardinals had allowed since they lost 21-2 at San Francisco in 1988.

Left-hander Mark Mulder almost surely will have to miss a start after giving up nine runs on nine hits in the third inning alone. In his last six outings, Mulder has lost four and given up 39 runs (36 earned) in 27 2/3 innings. Most startling is that he has given up 10 homers in that span, running his total to 18, which is just one shy of his yield for all last season.

Mulder consistently has said he isn't hurt although he did have a back problem earlier this season, and perhaps either that or something else is bothering him.

Sidney Ponson, already banished to the bullpen, may have pitched himself further away from the rotation -- even to the point of release. After a scoreless opening inning in his first relief stint, he allowed four consecutive hits in the sixth inning and then hit the next two batters. That appeared to anger manager Tony La Russa, who yanked Ponson from the game.

Also, Brad Thompson was lit up again in relief, suggesting that he might be a candidate to go to the minors for a while. Anthony Reyes already was going to be called up to start on Thursday in Chicago, and now, with the Cardinals having to used six pitchers Tuesday night, Brian Falkenborg also might have to be brought up to help the bullpen.

REPLAY: The White Sox batted around twice, in the third and sixth innings, scoring 11 and six runs, respectively, in those innings en route to a 20-6 demolition of the Cardinals. The score was a bit misleading -- it could have been worse -- as the Cardinals scored four runs in the ninth, two coming on a homer by Chris Duncan.

NOTES --1B Albert Pujols, out with a strained right oblique muscle but eligible to come off the disabled list, took some infield practice and hit indoors before the game Tuesday. He might be ready to serve as a DH this weekend in Detroit.

--RF Juan Encarnacion had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, in which he has hit above .400.

--SS David Eckstein returned to the lineup after missing three games with a slight concussion.

--C Gary Bennett caught LHP Mark Mulder for the second game in succession, but that probably will cease after Mulder's poor performance Tuesday.


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