ST. LOUIS -- Two starts into his National League career, Mark Mulder continues to look for the form that made him a two-time All-Star, 21-game winner and Cy Young runner-up in the American League. His manager says he`s "closer," and Mulder says he "feels great," but his results have been far from what the Cards hoped they were getting in a December trade. The left-hander was touched for six runs, all of them scoring with two outs, in five innings on Wednesday as St. Louis lost to Cincinnati, 6-5, at Busch Stadium. The Cards rallied mightily, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out in the ninth, but Albert Pujols grounded into a double play to end the game. Mulder`s rough outing followed his so-so debut in a St. Louis uniform in which he permitted five runs, four earned, over six innings on Friday. "I kept the ball down and I was throwing strikes, but a couple times I fell behind and it hurt me," Mulder said. "I gave up a couple bloop hits. They hit some hard, but a couple of the hits that started things were soft-hit balls and infield hits and stuff like that." Cincinnati rallied twice against Mulder, and both times the threats emerged after the first two batters of the inning were retired. Ryan Freel`s double started a third-inning uprising, with RBI singles by D`Angelo Jimenez and Joe Randa putting the Reds ahead, 2-1. In the fifth, Mulder was even closer to escaping danger. Following a single from Jimenez and a Sean Casey double, Randa hit a comebacker. Mulder was unable to glove it, and by the time David Eckstein fielded it, Jimenez had scored and Randa was on first. Austin Kearns blasted a three-run homer immediately thereafter for a 6-1 Redlegs advantage, and the Redbirds could never catch up. "It was up and away," said Mulder. "It was over the plate. It was 2-0 and I was trying to throw something down. But I don`t look at that because it never should have gotten that far. That`s not my concern. My concern was the at-bats before it even got there." Mulder gave way to Randy Flores, but the Cards were far from finished. Reggie Sanders smoked his fourth homer, a three-run shot the opposite way against David Weathers, to get the Cardinals within two runs. Danny Graves` leadoff walk to So Taguchi in the ninth started a chain of events that almost gave the Cards the lead. Hector Luna singled, and Eckstein drove a double to deep left. Unfortunately for St. Louis, the ball bounced over the wall for an automatic double, and Luna was required to come back to third. Had the ball stayed in play, the game would have been tied. With two on and one out, Reds manager Dave Miley elected to walk Larry Walker intentionally, loading the bases for Pujols. The slugger hit a hard bouncer to Randa at third, and Randa was able to field it, tag third base for the first out and dash off a throw to beat Pujols at first for the game`s final out. "It`s part of the game," said Pujols, hitting an uncharacteristic .241 with two extra-base hits. "You can`t understand why things happen sometimes, but that`s the way it goes. I don`t want to get frustrated about it because it`s too early. I know I`ve got to make some adjustments." Still, it was a situation that the Cards would take every day, if given the option. "That was real gutsy," said Sanders of the decision to walk Pujols. "Of course in our minds, we were thinking that the game was over when Albert came up." Unfortunately for the Cards, Sanders was right. Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.