Mark Mulder delivered a strong rehab start for Class A Quad Cities on Sunday night.
Pitching in a game for the first time since June 20, the tall left-hander allowed two runs on two hits in five innings against Clinton at John O'Donnell Stadium in Davenport, Iowa.
Mulder struck out one, walked one and coaxed seven groundouts and six fly-ball outs in the Swing's 5-2 victory. Mulder has been on the disabled list since June 21 with an impingement in his left shoulder and irritation and inflammation in his left rotator cuff.
Mulder tossed a simulated game at Busch Stadium on July 27, throwing three innings. He had been attempting to gain full extension of his shoulder on each pitch.
"If he takes a few steps forward after he threw the other day against our hitters, that would be like winning a doubleheader today," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said after the Cards' 7-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
Several organization officials, including Cards assistant trainer Greg Hauck, made the trek to the rehab start.
"I will be just as anxious to hear the report," La Russa said. "He has a lot of importance for us."
Other members of the Cardinals rotation are also anixious for the lefty to return.
"He is a big key," Jeff Suppan said.
The left-hander, 6-5 with a 6.09 ERA in 15 starts, hasn't pitched in a Major League game since allowing nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the White Sox on June 20.
Mulder probably will throw Friday for Double-A Springfield or Triple-A Memphis. He could join the rotation for the Reds series from Aug. 15-17.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.