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06/08/06 12:51 AM ET

Mulder, Cards try to right ship

St. Louis (35-24) at Milwaukee (28-32), 7:05 p.m. CT Friday

After a day off Thursday, the Cardinals and Mark Mulder will look to put the past behind them entering a three-game series against the Brewers.

After losing five of their last six and getting swept by Cincinnati, the Cardinals are tied with the Reds for first place in the National League Central.

"If we think about these last three games, we are going to put ourselves in a funk," John Rodriguez said.

Mark Mulder will also try to forget the past.

After a strong start to the season, the tall left-hander has hit a bit of rut, allowing 13 earned runs in his last two starts, covering 11 innings. He began the year 5-1 with a 3.69 ERA, but those numbers have escalated in recent weeks to 5-4 and 4.71.

He'll also try to steady an inconsistent starting rotation that didn't see a pitcher work seven innings in the Cards' last eight games. The last time a Redbirds starter worked seven frames was on Memorial Day.

More importantly, he looks to ignite a team that enjoyed a five-game lead in the NL Central on June 1.

Mulder will oppose left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a starter who had some control problems in his last start.

Pitching matchup
STL: LHP Mark Mulder (5-4, 4.71 ERA)
Mulder finds himself in a slump, having allowed eight runs in each of his past two outings. He needs to practice better damage control. In each of those starts, Mulder has been unable to stop the bleeding, watching innings spiral out of hand.

STL: LHP Jorge De La Rosa (2-2, 7.90 ERA)
In De La Rosa's second start after being moved into the starting rotation, he fared better than his first outing. In 5 2/3 innings, the lefty was charged with five runs -- three came on Alfonso Soriano's grand slam off reliever Joe Winkelsas -- while striking out three and walking four. De La Rosa broke a fingernail in his first outing at Pittsburgh, but said it wasn't a big problem on Sunday and should be fine for the next time he pitches.

Player to watch
So Taguchi is batting .429 (3-for-7) against De La Rosa.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• Fox Sports Midwest

On radio
• KTRS 550 AM

Up next
• Saturday: Cardinals (RHP Jason Marquis, 8-4, 5.03) at Brewers (LHP Chris Capuano, 6-4, 3.31), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Cardinals (RHP Jeff Suppan, 5-4, 5.01) at Brewers (RHP Dave Bush, 4-5, 4.54) at 7:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.