Not only were they already without third baseman Troy Glaus (right rotator cuff strain) and outfielder Rick Ankiel (abdominal strain) before Wednesday's game, but they also lost catcher Yadier Molina in a 4-3 loss with a bruised left thigh. Molina was hurt when Chicago pitcher Ted Lilly plowed into him in an unsuccessful attempt to score in the second inning.
Glaus, who got a second cortisone shot in his shoulder before Wednesday's game, and Molina both will be out several days and Ankiel may not start again the rest of the season.
"(Ankiel) is not himself," said manager Tony La Russa, who said Ankiel would play "sparingly.
"He's just not getting better. He hasn't really been productive, and he's been limited in his swings."
Ankiel, who will be receiving a second opinion on his lingering injury, is 11 for his last 65 (.169) with four homers and 12 RBIs since he was hurt in New York seven weeks ago.
The Cardinals are 4 1/2 games out of the NL wild-card spot with 17 games to play and have diminishing resources in the form of regular players.
"We can't give in to complications," La Russa said. "We'll play with the guys we have. We've done a good job with that."
Ryan Ludwick, who drove in his first runs in nine days with a two-run homer, giving him 101 RBIs for the season, said, "We're still not out of it."
But now, with the Astros passing them, there are three teams -- Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Houston -- ahead of the Cardinals.
CUBS 4, CARDINALS 3: INF Felipe Lopez has been a hot hitter since the Cardinals signed him after Washington released him, but his defense has been erratic. Playing third base, he committed two errors in succession in the second inning, leading to four Chicago runs. Lopez missed the bag on what would have been a force play, then fired the ball past 2B Adam Kennedy after making a diving stop on the next play.
NOTES AND QUOTES:
--RHP Chris Carpenter, who hasn't pitched in a week, still is unavailable, manager Tony La Russa said. Carpenter, recovering from a shoulder strain, has not felt quite good enough to continue in his new temporary role as a reliever and will undergo more diagnostic testing before trying to pitch again.
--RHP Josh Kinney had a six-pitch, perfect seven inning in his first regular-season appearance since Oct. 1, 2006. Kinney had Tommy John elbow surgery and then other complications with his arm.
--The Cardinals fell into fourth place in the National League Central for the first time all season, even though they still are 11 games over .500.
--RHP Braden Looper, who lasted just five innings in throwing 106 pitches, has given up only one earned run over 12 1/3 innings in his last two starts, but he is 0-1 for his efforts.
--RHP Kyle Lohse dropped his appeal and began serving his five-game suspension meted out for allegedly throwing near the head of Cincinnati RHP Edinson Volquez on Aug. 17. Lohse's next start would have been Sunday, but now he'll start on Tuesday at Cincinnati.