Pujols said the elbow, which has shredded ligaments, was "not even close to being as bad as last year. If it was, I would shut it down and have the surgery tomorrow."
A few hours later, it was business as usual for Pujols. He hit a three-run homer off Chicago's Ryan Dempster, his third homer in three nights, to tie the game in the sixth. The Cardinals won on a tapper by Cesar Izturis and a hand-first slide by pinch runner Brendan Ryan in the ninth.
"Pujols can hit a home run off anybody," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He's their big guy, and their big guy got it done."
Addressing Pujols' concern Monday about surgery, manager Tony La Russa had said, "My guess is he's got pain. My take is when I heard the reports (Monday) ... that's what he told us recently.
"I said (then), 'You want to shut it down?' and he said, 'I'm good to go.'"
"This is not the first time he's done this," La Russa said, "where he's done something that is just amazing. He usually plays with pain."
CARDINALS 4, CUBS 3: RHP Kyle Lohse, who allowed three early runs and lasted just 5 1/3 innings, had his seventh consecutive winless start. But the Cardinals bullpen worked 3 2/3 scoreless frames, and after 1B Albert Pujols' 33rd homer tied the game in the sixth, St. Louis parlayed a single by C Yadier Molina, a balk, a walk, a sacrifice and a fielder's choice to score the winning run in the ninth. The Cardinals moved within 3 1/2 games of NL wild-card leader Milwaukee.
NOTES AND QUOTES:
--3B Troy Glaus had to come out the game with a strained right shoulder, which he aggravated when he took a swing during a third-inning strikeout. Glaus, who had a shot in the shoulder on Sunday, is out indefinitely.
--Manager Tony La Russa let it drop the other day that he was looking forward to handing the ball in the ninth inning sometime to RHP Chris Carpenter, who has been the club's ace starter when healthy in years past. But Carpenter's arm hasn't responded well lately, and he may not wind up getting any save opportunities.
--1B Albert Pujols is just two RBIs shy of his eighth consecutive 100-RBI season.
--CF Skip Schumaker had a single and a double, giving him his 43rd multi-hit game, second on the team. Pujols, batting a National League-leading .361, has 51.
--INF Brian Barden's first plate appearance of the season for the Cardinals was a key sacrifice bunt that moved runners to second and third in the ninth inning.
--OF Brian Barton (strained right oblique) was activated from the disabled list, meaning the Rule 5 pick will spend the entire season with the Cardinals.