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Cubs shortstop Javier Baez leaves loss after being hit near elbow

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez left Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Cardinals after getting hit on his left elbow by a pitch from Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty in the top of the third inning.

After the game, Baez said he thinks he'll be OK.

"I'm fine, just really sore. He got me really good right on the elbow," Baez said. "I thought the pain was going to go away right away, but it kind of numbed my whole arm and even my ribs. We've been icing it, and it feels pretty sore, but right now I'm good."

Baez, 25, was in immediate pain after he was struck, eventually going to the ground as the Cubs' training staff, along with manager Joe Maddon, attended to him. Addison Russell replaced him in the lineup.

"Everything checked out OK," Maddon said. "He got it in a bad spot. It's going to sting and burn and that kind of stuff."

The injury was diagnosed as a left elbow contusion. The Cubs didn't feel he needed X-rays but could re-evaluate Monday in Chicago.

The infielder said he wants to play against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night but couldn't say for sure he would be able to. He had an arm length bandage stretching over his elbow while at his locker addressing reporters. He also said he didn't move his elbow for "about an hour" after getting hit.

"I can move it way better now, but it's still pretty sore," Baez said.

The Cubs are built to withstand an injury to a regular starter like Baez as Ben Zobrist or Ian Happ can fill in at second base, though Russell would have to take all the starts at shortstop if Baez missed significant time.

Meanwhile, the Cubs won two of three from the Cardinals, though they there were shut out for the third time in five games. They remain neck-and-neck with the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. They were briefly tied with Milwaukee for first place before dropping back by a 1/2 game after the loss Sunday.

The news could have been a lot of worse if Baez had broken any bones. He leads the Cubs with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs. There's a chance he could play Monday, though Maddon is likely to be cautious.

"I hope I'm in there," Baez said. "We will see tomorrow ... I can hold a lot of pain."