Sports

Cardinals lose important pair

The St. Louis Cardinals put one of the National League’s top winners on the disabled list, and expect the league’s best hitter to follow soon.

Kyle McClellan, who is 6-2 with a 3.86 ERA in his first year in the rotation, strained a hip flexor muscle in the first inning Monday against San Francisco when he landed awkwardly. The right-hander allowed seven runs in four innings.

“You think maybe it’s just a one-time thing,” the 24-year-old McClellan said. “By the time I realized it wasn’t, I was already in some hot water.”

Matt Holliday, meanwhile, returned from a six-game absence with a left quadriceps injury Monday but was a lineup scratch Tuesday, striking out as a pinch hitter. He’s batting .342, four points ahead of teammate Lance Berkman for the league lead, with six homers and 31 RBI.

“Frankly it looks like it’s getting better, but it’s still something he feels,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “It’s just not going away.”

Manager Tony La Russa said Holliday appeared to respond well to hard workouts last weekend and told the team he was ready. But Holliday had a lot of trouble running Monday, and perhaps cost the team a run when he shuffled to first on a grounder he otherwise could have easily beat out after third baseman Miguel Batista bobbled the ball.

Holliday remained on the roster Wednesday night against the Giants, partly because St. Louis couldn’t get a replacement player in time.

“He felt something where he was hoping not to feel anything,” La Russa said.

SHORT HOPS

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez left Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros after getting hit in the face by a ground ball from in the seventh inning that took a bad hop. Team trainers ran onto the field and helped Ramirez into the dugout while holding a towel to his face.He received stitches for a laceration inside his mouth and on his upper lip but should stay off the disabled list. … Los Angeles Angels right-hander Dan Haren cut short a throwing session in the bullpen after feeling discomfort in his lower back, putting in jeopardy his Saturday start against the New York Yankees. Haren, among the league leaders in innings with 86 1-3, strikeouts (74) and opponent batting average (.212), will be examined before a decision is made. … Boston left-hander Rich Hill, one of the Red Sox’s most consistent relievers, walked off the mound grabbing near his left elbow in the seventh inning of a 7-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Trying to snap off a curveball on a 3-2 pitch to Adam Dunn – the first batter he faced – Hill immediately reached near the elbow. Initial tests were good, but he went for an MRI exam for what the club said was a “forearm injury.” … Twins designated hitter Jim Thome suffered a mild strain of his left quadriceps and was forced to leave the game against Detroit during the sixth inning.

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