<
>

Shortstop carried off; Zambrano shuts down Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nomar Garciaparra took two steps out of the
batters' box, then collapsed in pain.

Garciaparra was carried off the field with an injured left groin
that likely will land him on the 15-day disabled list for an
extended period, tempering an impressive outing by Carlos Zambrano
in a 3-1 victory that ended the St. Louis Cardinals' five-game
winning streak on Wednesday night.

"I've strained my groin before but I've never felt anything
like this before," Garciaparra said. "It's kind of a freak
thing."

Garciaparra was to undergo an MRI exam on Thursday. The Cubs
feared the worst, a torn groin, for the star shortstop they
acquired at the trade deadline last July.

"It's not good, it's a bad groin," manager Dusty Baker said.
"Hopefully it's not as bad as anticipated, but we know it's not
good -- especially for a shortstop."

Zambrano (2-0) came within one out of a complete game and drove
in a run with his first career triple, helping the Cubs overcome
Garciaparra's injury for at least one game.

Garciaparra, who was batting .157 and got dropped from third to
sixth in the batting order for the game, was injured while
grounding into a double play in the third.

Garciaparra is likely to join second baseman Todd Walker, who
could be out until June with an injured left knee, on the disabled
list.

"We both didn't want to limp around together, that's for
sure," Garciaparra said.

But the Cubs weren't wasting time feeling sorry for themselves.

"It's not going to be easy, but we've still got to find a
way," Baker said. "Like last year, nobody is going to give you
any consolation for all of your guys being hurt."

Albert Pujols hit his fourth home run for the Cardinals, who
were mostly silenced by Zambrano in front of a sellout crowd of
44,855 at the start of an eight-game homestand. They had outscored
the opposition 29-7 during a perfect five-game trip to Milwaukee
and Pittsburgh.

"He pitched good and we didn't hit," the Cardinals' Larry
Walker said. "So, it was a bad combination."

St. Louis was limited to one hit in the first five innings and
threatened only in the sixth with three hits, although David
Eckstein was easily thrown out at second by Michael Barrett when he
led off with his second hit of the game and tried to steal.

Zambrano (2-0) gave up five hits in 8 2/3 innings. Although he's
only 1-1 in St. Louis, he has allowed only two earned runs in 28
innings.

After Scott Rolen doubled with two outs in the ninth, Zambrano
left with a blister on his index finger. LaTroy Hawkins then
retired John Mabry on a drive to the center-field wall, getting his
third save.

"I wanted to finish but that was the right decision for the
manager," Zambrano said. "It's bad right now but I don't think
I'll miss my next start."

Zambrano is 5-for-12 at the plate this year with a double,
triple and two RBI. His triple off Jeff Suppan (1-2) in the second
scooted through wet grass and past center fielder Jim Edmonds to
the wall in left-center, scoring Barrett from first.

After the start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 22 minutes by
rain, Chicago won for the fourth time in five games.

Derrek Lee was 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored twice after
moving into Garciaparra's usual third spot. Aramis Ramirez and
Jeromy Burnitz drove in a run apiece, and Todd Hollandsworth and
Barrett each had two hits.

Suppan threw 106 pitches in 6 1-3 innings and gave up three runs
-- two earned -- and nine hits.

"It was a tough one," Suppan said. "I think it was one of
those games where he outpitched me."

Game notes
Zambrano batted .229 last year with a homer and five RBI.
... The Cardinals' 5-0 trip was their best since another 5-0 trip
in 1962. ... Despite the loss, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is
47-17 at home against the Cubs, who haven't had a winning season at
Busch since 1995. ... The Cardinals have homered in their last nine
games. ... The Cubs outhit the Cardinals 12-4 and stranded 13
runners, leaving the bases loaded in the ninth.