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Izzy on DL for fifth time since '96

ST. LOUIS -- Jason Isringhausen has undergone seven operations, so he's used to setbacks.

The St. Louis Cardinals' closer has another injury to deal with now.

Isringhausen was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained right abdominal muscle. He had made a full recovery from offseason hip surgery, an injury that hindered him much of last season even though he tied for the NL lead with a franchise record-tying 47 saves.

In February he signed a new three-year, $25.75 million contract. He is 7-for-7 in save opportunities this season.

"The black cloud is starting to come over my head again," Isringhausen said. "I thought I had it away from me for a while. I
was just starting to get to where I wanted to be and throwing the
ball good, and then this happens."

Isringhausen was injured in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 5-3 victory over the Brewers. The outing began uneventfully with J.J. Hardy grounding out. But Isringhausen felt a twinge on his right side on ball four to pinch-hitter Chris Magruder, who walked on a full count.

The next pitch to Brady Clark was his 10th and last, doubling him over in pain. Now he's on the disabled list for the fifth time since 1996 with a problem spot below the last rib on his right side.

"He is significantly sore," trainer Barry Weinberg said. "Not
good, not good."

The injury came without warning.

"I threw the ball great in the bullpen, and I threw the ball great and got the first out," Isringhausen said. "I thought maybe it was just a little something because you always get twinges here and there, and then you do your thing.

"The second pitch felt real bad."

Isringhausen thought he'd need only a handful of days to recuperate because more serious abdominal injuries for right-handers come on the left side due to the amount of torque involved. Weinberg is optimistic that Isringhausen will be ready to go after 15 days.

But Isringhausen understands the wisdom of being cautious.

"It's not that bad. It's early, so we're not going to try to
push it. When you're 13-5, there's no sense in pushing it," he
said before the Cardinals improved to 14-5 with their 11th win in
12 games.

Setup men Julian Tavarez and Ray King were expected to get the bulk of the closer duty while Isringhausen is out.

"It's a tough break," La Russa said. "This has got to be the
most consistent he's been. He really repeated his delivery over and
over again and has been getting saves with low pitch counts.

"That's the way the game is."

Tavarez has 18 career saves, 11 of them with the Pirates in 2003
and four last year with St. Louis. King has one career save, in
2001 with the Brewers

"If Tony turned the ball over to me, I would do it, I would
enjoy it," Tavarez said. "I hope it's not serious. I hope he
doesn't have to be out for a while because we really need him."

Tavarez struck out the side in the ninth inning of a 6-3 victory
over the Brewers on Wednesday for his first save, but emphasized he
was just a caretaker.

"I'm not going to get comfortable in somebody else's house
because it doesn't belong to me," Tavarez said. "I'm just happy
they let me in for awhile."

La Russa said he'd play it by feel and save King and Tavarez for
the end of games if he could. Randy Flores earned his second career
save on Tuesday after both Tavarez and King had been used.

"Stay tuned, we'll see how it works out," La Russa said.
"We're just going to see who's available, and we'll just do the
best we can. It's always an opportunity for somebody else."

To replace Isringhausen on the roster, the Cardinals recalled left-hander Carmen Cali from Triple-A Memphis. Already, this is Cali's second stint with the team this season.