Mark Prior is out for the rest of the season.
His once-promising future with the Chicago Cubs is unclear, although surgery on his right shoulder is not considered career-threatening.
Dr. James Andrews operated on the righthander Tuesday in an arthroscopic procedure in which he also worked on Prior's rotator cuff.
"Dr. Andrews feels comfortable that he will still have a career. This is certainly not career-ending," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said yesterday. "He felt optimistic that he would be able to pitch next year . . . At his age, he should not have a problem responding and coming back after a strenuous rehab."
Prior, 26, has been beset by injuries since his first full season in the majors in 2003. He went on the disabled list three times last year and started this season at Triple A Iowa.
"It's best for him. He had some physical problems and now they've been taken care of. I don't think he was going to be able to pitch this way," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after yesterday's 9-3 win over visiting Milwaukee.
"In a way, I'm happy for the guy because he'll get well now and get strong and he can resume his career without the problems that he had. A lot of pitchers have this type of surgery and bounce back and have very productive careers. So let's hope that's the same in Mark's case."
The injury was the latest problem for the struggling team.
Kerry Wood, who teamed with Prior to nearly pitch the Cubs to the NL pennant in 2003, is back on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder. Wood has not pitched since a spring training appearance on March 25 when his arm felt weak and then stiffened up the next day, and Hendry said Wood might resume throwing this week.
Prior is 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA in the majors. He took a slight pay cut this season, from $3.65 million to $3,575,000.
Prior finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2003, when he 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and struck out 245 in 211 1/3 innings.
Yesterday, Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd each got four hits and the Cubs broke loose after Brewers ace Ben Sheets injured his groin in the third inning. Ted Lilly (2-2) allowed six hits and one earned run in seven innings as the Cubs ended a three-game losing streak.
In other games:
* At Los Angeles, Barry Bonds hit his 741st career homer, a three-run shot in the first inning, Pedro Feliz had the go-ahead homer in the sixth and San Francisco beat the Dodgers, 6-4.
* At New York, Willy Taveras got five of Colorado's season-high 20 hits and the Rockies snapped out of an offensive drought with an 11-5 rout of the New York Mets.
* At Pittsburgh, Adam LaRoche grounded a winning single in the 16th inning and the Pirates rallied after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth to beat Houston, 4-3.
* At Phoenix, San Diego ace Jake Peavy fell one strikeout short of Tom Seaver's major league record of 10 consecutive strikeouts and fanned 16 batters in seven innings, but Stephen Drew hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth to give Arizona a 3-2 win over Padres.
* At Miami, Miguel Olivo scored on a passed ball to cap a four-run rally in the ninth inning against Tim Hudson and Bob Wickman (1-1), and Florida beat Atlanta, 4-3.
* At St. Louis, Albert Pujols hit a two-run, tiebreaking double to spark a four-run eighth inning and the Cardinals beat Cincinnati, 5-2. *