ST. LOUIS – Mark Mulder won his seventh straight decision and Yadier Molina had career bests by going 4-for-4 with four RBIs, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.

David Eckstein had a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly for the Cardinals, who have beaten the Pirates 12 straight times dating to last August. It’s their longest winning streak against Pittsburgh since they also won 12 straight from June 13, 1985 to June 17, 1986.

The final game of the three-game series was the Cardinals’ easiest by far after a 2-1, 12-inning victory on Tuesday and a 4-2 win in Monday’s opener.

Mulder (7-1) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and one walk and is 7-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his last eight starts after two shaky outings to begin the season. He’s also 4-0 against the Pirates for his career, plus he singled in the sixth for his second hit in 21 at-bats with St. Louis.

Molina, who got the winning hit on Tuesday, doubled and scored in the third and had a two-run single in a four-run fourth that put the Cardinals ahead 6-0. He doubled and scored in the sixth and hit a two-run single in the seventh. After a 1-for-31 start to the season, the Cardinals’ new starting catcher has hit .320 to raise his overall average to .252.

Freddy Sanchez had a pinch-hit two-run double and Ty Wigginton had two homers for the Pirates, who have lost four in a row and six of eight. This was the first time in the eight-game span they did not score first.

Wigginton’s second homer was a two-run shot off Gabe White in the ninth.

Pirates starter Mark Redman (3-4) endured his worst outing of the season by far, failing to work at least six innings for the first time. After a promising start with six groundball outs in a perfect first and second, Eckstein hit a two-run homer in the third and Redman faced 10 batters in the fourth.

In his previous two starts, Redman had been 2-0 with two runs allowed in 15 1-3 innings.

The Cardinals had 14 hits, and three players ended droughts. Jim Edmonds had been 0-for-11 before an RBI double in the fourth, Mark Grudzielanek was 2-for-22 before a bases-loaded infield hit in the fourth and John Mabry was 0-for-14 before a pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth.

Notes: Mulder is 71-5 in 86 career starts when his team scores at least four runs. … The Cardinals have won five of six overall, and have a five-game winning streak at home. … Eckstein’s homer ended a run of 41 innings without one for the Cardinals. … Molina is batting .500 (11-for-22) against the Pirates. … For the first time in 16 games, the Pirates never held a lead. … David Ross of the Pirates singled in the third to end an 0-for-15 slump.

AP-ES-05-25-05 2301EDT


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