Mark Mulder’s stiff neck prevented him from getting his projected start against the Nationals on Sunday. In his place, five Cardinals relievers combined for a four-hit, 6-0 shutout of Washington.

Cal Eldred got his first start since the 2001 season and allowed two of those hits in three innings of work. Up next was rookie Brad Thompson, who eventually got the win. He also lasted three innings and gave up one hit. Julian Tavarez, Al Reyes and Ray King each pitched an inning to close out the game—King was the only one of the three to allow a hit. Eldred and King allowed a walk apiece, as the Nationals put just six runners on base.

The Cardinals beat the Nationals 6-0 on Saturday, as well, holding Washington scoreless in the final 21 innings of the series.

St. Louis got on the board in the sixth inning, when David Eckstein scored on a Yadier Molina ground ball. Then Jim Edmonds stole home to make it 2-0. So Taguchi later reached on an infield single to drive in Molina and the Cardinals took a 3-0 lead.

John Rodriguez drove in Eckstein with a single in the eighth and later in the inning Abraham Nunez singled in Rodriguez and Molina to push St. Louis’ lead to 6-0.

The Cardinals played most of the game without first baseman Albert Pujols, who was ejected in the top of the first by umpire Larry Poncino for arguing after trying to steal a base.

Over the weekend, the Cardinals stretched their lead in the National League Central to 14 ½ games over the Astros.