Nats' Cordero strains muscle, headed back to DL

WASHINGTON -- Nationals reliever Chad Cordero expects to head back to the disabled list after leaving Tuesday night's 6-3 victory over the Braves after only 13 pitches with what was initially diagnosed as a strained lat muscle below his throwing shoulder.

The right-hander called for a trainer to come to the mound after feeling something on what turned out to be his final pitch of the night. He'll have an MRI exam Wednesday.

"It hurt really, really bad," said Cordero, who led the majors with 47 saves in 2005 and has none this season. "They were talking about putting me on the DL, which I think would be good."

The Nationals think he probably hurt himself while trying to compensate for weakness in his right shoulder. He went on the DL with shoulder tendinitis before appearing in a regular-season game, then came off April 12 -- but had yet to earn back his job as closer.

The one bit of good news Tuesday was that "the shoulder was tested and it's still strong," manager Manny Acta said.

Cordero came on to start the ninth with a four-run lead, but gave up singles to the first two men he faced. He then got one out on a foul popup, but left while facing the next hitter.

Jon Rauch came on and gave up an RBI single before getting two outs for his fifth save.

"Pitchers never go through a whole career without getting hurt. It's very rare. It's just my time to get hurt, I guess. I'm hoping this will be the last one. I'll just try to build it up as much as I can over the next couple of weeks and try to get back out there," Cordero said.

"I hate not pitching and being on the DL and not being a closer. It's tough -- and it's going to be even tougher for the next couple weeks."