Closer strains abdominal muscle during ninth inning

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals won for the 10th time in 11 games and then learned they may have lost their closer for a while.

Jason Isringhausen left with a strained right abdominal muscle in the ninth inning of a 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on
Tuesday, a down ending to a night that featured a pair of two-run doubles by Albert Pujols.

Isringhausen minimized the injury, but members of front office huddled with pitching coach Dave Duncan after the game to discuss which pitcher to recall from Triple-A Memphis if Isringhausen goes on the 15-day disabled list. Duncan said the team would probably summon left-hander Carmen Cali, who began the year with St. Louis.

"We'll just have to wait 24 hours and see how he feels," manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't think it's too smart to speculate. You're obviously concerned."

St. Louis is a National League-best 13-5, the best start for the Cardinals since they began 1982 with a 13-4 record and went on to win the World Series. The hot streak began with a three-game sweep at Milwaukee April 15-17, and St. Louis won the opener of this three-game series despite stranding 14 runners, leaving the bases loaded in the first, sixth and eighth.

Isringhausen, who has seven saves in seven chances, entered at the start of the ninth. He retired J.J. Hardy on a grounder and walked pinch-hitter Chris Magruder.

After throwing Ball 4 to Magruder, Isringhausen bent over and winced. He threw one more pitch to Brady Clark, bending over in pain, before La Russa and trainer Barry Weinberg came out.

"The last pitch to Magruder I felt it, and then the first pitch to Brady Clark," Isringhausen said. "I wasn't going to try to go any farther. It got worse with each pitch, so that was enough."

Isringhausen was confident that the injury would be a short-term situation.

"It ain't going to slow me down all year, I'll tell you that now," Isringhausen said. "It ain't a big deal, as of right now."

Randy Flores then got his second career save when Damian Miller grounded into a double play.

"We had already lost a couple of players to injury, you don't want to lose the game, too," La Russa said. "He made a great pitch to Miller, a breaking ball down."

In the eighth, Reggie Sanders was hit by a pitch on his left hand and left in a double switch in the ninth. X-rays showed a bruise and Sanders doesn't think he'll miss more than one game.

"It kind of scared me, but I'll be fine," Sanders said.

Jeff Suppan (2-2) raised his record against Milwaukee to 9-2, including both of his victories this year. He threw 97 pitches in five-plus innings but was hurt only by Hardy's two-run single in the second.

Pujols' sharp grounder took a bad hop and handcuffed third baseman Russell Branyan to drive in the game's first two runs in the first. He doubled again in the fourth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-2, making Doug Davis (2-3) pay for walks to Suppan and Larry Walker.

Pujols is 11-for-28 with two home runs during a seven-game hitting streak and leads the Cardinals with 15 RBI. He also improvised on a grounder to first that veered sharply, rolling while making a rainbow throw to Suppan covering at first to nip Branyan in the fourth.

"That's not the way we practice it," La Russa said jokingly.

Davis threw 94 pitches in four innings, walking five, and lost to the Cardinals for the second time in three starts. He gave up four runs on four hits with four strikeouts and has lost his last three decisions, allowing 12 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings.

Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay required 12 stitches to close a cut on his jaw sustained when he landed awkwardly over the tarpaulin and struck a plexiglass barrier after making a catch in foul territory in the first. But he was still in uniform and on the bench later in the game.

"It was a huge gash, it was deep and wide and it was bad," manager Ned Yost said. "He'll miss one game for sure because he's awfully sore."

Wes Obermueller, who would have started Monday's rained out game in place of ailing Ben Sheets, allowed an unearned run, one hit and three walks in 2 1/3 innings of relief for the Brewers. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when Jim Edmonds grounded out on a 3-1 pitch for the last out.

Obermueller, a .385 hitter with five RBI last year, doubled and scored on Geoff Jenkins' two-out double in the seventh to cut the deficit to 4-3.

St. Louis added a run in the seventh on So Taguchi's one-out walk, a wild pickoff throw by Obermueller and a two-out RBI single by Abraham Nunez.

Game notes
Pujols has reached base in 26 consecutive regular-season games. He's 6-for-13 against Davis with one homer and 7-for-15 against the Brewers. ... In all of the Brewers' seven wins, they've
scored at least six runs. ... Yadier Molina is 0-for-14 against Milwaukee pitching. ... Walker was on base all five at-bats, going 2-for-2 with a hit by pitch and two walks.