Ramirez, Nevin power Cubs past Mulder, Cards; Pujols hurt

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chicago has been playing without its All-Star first baseman for more than a month. The Cardinals are concerned they might be without theirs for a while, too.

Peek At The Oblique

What's involved: The two external abdominal oblique muscles lie on the sides and front of the abdomen and are the largest of the muscles in this area. These flat muscles are attached to the ribs and the pelvis in such a way that both muscles, acting together, bend the spine forward. One side acting alone can bend the vertebral column sideways and rotate it, bringing the shoulder of that side forward.

Diagnosis: A muscle pull, or strain, happens when a muscle is stretched more than normal, tearing some of the muscle fibers or partially detaching the tendon from the bone. Pain often starts when the muscle area is worked thereafter. A trainer can tell by asking the athlete certain questions.

Treatment: For the first 48 hours after the injury, it's usually recommended that the athlete ice the area and take anti-inflammatory medications -- ibuprofen or aspirin -- to decrease the pain and speed recovery. Massage and heat can also help. But rest is best. After two days -- depending on the severity of the injury -- the athlete can start a gentle stretching program. Otherwise, it's important to avoid movements that cause pain or could aggravate the injury.

-- Source: WebMD (www.webmd.com)

Aramis Ramirez hit a grand slam and St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols strained his right oblique muscle in the second inning of the Cubs' 8-5 victory Saturday. Pujols, who leads the major leagues with 25 home runs and 65 RBI after winning the NL MVP award last year, will be re-evaluated on Sunday but is expected to go on the DL.

"Obviously, we have significant concerns about the severity," team physician Dr. George Paletta said. "This injury can put you out for weeks."

Paletta said Pujols, who pulled up and grabbed his right side while chasing a foul pop by Ramirez in the second, could be out for as long as six weeks.

"If you told me right now he'd be out two weeks, that's a lot better than the rest of the year," manager Tony La Russa said. "I just don't think after talking to Dr. Paletta that two weeks from now, Albert will be ready to go."

Phil Nevin, acquired on Wednesday from the Rangers, added a two-run homer in his first start with the Cubs. Nevin is expected to help make up for the loss of first baseman Derrek Lee, who is sidelined with a broken right wrist.

"I haven't been nervous in a game in a long time," Nevin said. "I had a little bit of that today.

"I keep looking down and seeing 'Chicago' -- it's pretty cool," he said.

The Cubs took advantage of three errors to score five runs in the fourth against Mark Mulder, including third baseman Scott Rolen's second fielding error in two games. Chicago has taken the first two games of the three-game series, the Cardinals' first home series loss after a 9-0 start at new Busch Stadium, and is 6-2 against St. Louis overall this year.

"They helped us with some errors by guys that don't make them," manager Dusty Baker said. "Maybe it's just our time to get some breaks, but we capitalized on them."

Mulder (5-4) lost his third straight start and allowed eight runs and 12 hits, five of the runs earned, in 6 2/3 innings. Since throwing 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the Mets on May 17, he has surrendered 19 runs, 16 earned, in 17 1/3 innings.

Glendon Rusch (2-5) started for the first time since April 29 and earned his first victory since April 16. In five innings he gave up three runs and four hits while avoiding the long ball.

Entering the game, he was among the NL leaders with 13 homers allowed in only 37 innings. More important, his stint provided some relief for the bullpen after a 14-inning victory on Friday night.

"I was happy to get us into the middle of the game, especially after everybody we used yesterday," Rusch said. "It was just a great game all around."

Yadier Molina hit a two-run single off Scott Williamson in the ninth to cut the Cubs' lead to 8-5 but Bob Howry got Aaron Miles to ground out with Molina on first for his first save.

Williamson injured his elbow throwing a breaking ball on his last pitch and trainer Mark O'Neal recommended that the reliever be placed on the 15-day disabled list. O'Neal characterized the injury as tendinitis unrelated to Williamson's two previous elbow


O'Neal said Williamson would meet with Reds surgeon Tim Kremchek, who performed both of those operations, on Monday in Cincinnati.

"Right now he's sore and I think the best for us is to put him on the DL," O'Neal said. "I don't anticipate this being anything more than 15 days, but we need to know we have somebody who can pitch two or three days from now and I can't guarantee them that

right now."

The Cardinals delayed a possible DL move on Friday with Jim Edmonds, who's been out a week with an abdominal strain. A third All-Star, Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, is on the DL already but is expected to return to the rotation on Tuesday.

Fielding errors by shortstop David Eckstein and Rolen, sandwiched around a single by Michael Barrett, loaded the bases with none out in the fourth. Ramirez hit his 10th homer, and sixth career grand slam, on a 2-0 pitch to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Center fielder So Taguchi dropped the ball while attempting to make a throw after Jacque Jones' single later in the inning. Ronny Cedeno added an RBI single for a 5-1 lead as the Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate.

Nevin hit his 10th homer in the fifth after walking as a pinch-hitter in his debut on Friday night. Nevin, who had been a designated hitter with Texas, started at first base.

Reliever Roberto Novoa added a run-scoring ground-rule double, his first career hit in seven at-bats, in the seventh.

Eckstein had an RBI single in the third and Mulder had a run-scoring single in the fifth, his fifth RBI of the season.

Barrett's second straight three-hit game made him 13-for-28 against St. Louis pitching this season with three homers and 10 RBI.Game notes
The Cardinals are 0-6 since May 12 in games in which they committed an error. They're 26-9 with perfect fielding and 8-12 otherwise. ... Paid attendance of 45,820 was the largest, by 21, in a season-long sellout at Busch.