PITTSBURGH (AP) – Mark Mulder beat the Pirates for the fifth time in as many career starts against them, limiting Pittsburgh to three hits in eight innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals started a 13-game road trip successfully by winning 3-1 Monday night.

Abraham Nunez, a former Pirates infielder who was released by one of the majors’ worst teams after last season only to hook on with one of its best, went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .311 for the Cardinals. The utility infielder drove in a run and figured in both of their scoring innings.

A bad matchup on paper for the Pirates – Mulder vs. Josh Fogg – turned out to be exactly that as Mulder beat them for the third time in as many starts this season. Fogg (6-9) gave up three runs and 11 hits in five innings and is 1-8 with an 8.47 ERA in 10 career starts against the Cardinals, who improved their major league-best road record to 38-22.

Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 36 opportunities as Mulder, denied his second consecutive complete game, was lifted after throwing 94 pitches.

The Cardinals’ eighth victory in 10 games against Pittsburgh this season also was Tony La Russa’s 2,193rd as a manager, leaving him one behind Sparky Anderson for third place in major league history.

Mulder (15-6) was in little trouble except for the fourth, when the Pirates scored on singles by Michael Restovich and Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez’s sacrifice fly. But the Pirates ran themselves out of a possibly bigger inning when Wilson, trying to be aggressive and score from second base on the play, was thrown out easily at the plate by shortstop David Eckstein on a relay throw from left fielder So Taguchi.

The Pirates had only one more hit after that against Mulder, who was coming off a 5-0 victory Wednesday over Arizona.

As usual, the Cardinals got off to a fast start against Fogg, who is having trouble beating anyone these days with six losses in eight decisions. Eckstein singled to stop an 0-for-15 slide and Larry Walker hit a bloop double to left ahead of Nunez’s RBI single.

In the third, Jim Edmonds walked and Nunez singled, and Taguchi and Hector Luna followed with RBI singles. Luna was filling in for second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who missed a second consecutive game with an infected knee but could return to the lineup Thursday.

Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee while being clipped by Luna as Castillo turned a double play grounder in the third. Castillo will have an MRI on Tuesday.

Notes: Mulder is 7-1 since June 28. … The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina went 0-for-4 after previously being 17-of-36 against Pittsburgh this season. … Pirates LHP Oliver Perez (broken left big toe) gave up seven hits and two runs, both in the first inning, in a four-inning rehabilitation start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday night, his first outing since late June. … St. Louis has won 15 of 17 from the Pirates since last season and is 41-20 against them since 2002.

AP-ES-08-22-05 2127EDT

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