-- Atlanta Braves starter Mike Hampton was forced to leave Thursday's Game 2 in the seventh inning because of soreness in his left forearm, and his status for later in the series was unclear.

Hampton has also been pitching with torn cartilage in his left knee, which will require arthroscopic surgery after the season.

Still, Hampton limited the Astros to two runs -- on solo homers by Jeff Bagwell and Raul Chavez -- over 61/3 innings. Had he not gotten hurt, Hampton almost certainly would have been available to pitch -- either as a starter or in relief -- in a possible Game 5. He will be reevaluated on Friday in Houston.

Garner's Future

Astros Manager Phil Garner still has an "interim" tag attached to his title, reflecting his midseason hiring to replace the fired Jimy Williams. However, it seems only a matter of semantics, and only a matter of time before the tag is removed.

"I don't see how [the 'interim' tag] could not" be dropped, Astros veteran first baseman Jeff Bagwell said. "Obviously, he's done a tremendous job, and deserves to be our manager."

According to an Astros official, the only reason Garner is still being called interim manager is to keep the Astros in compliance with Commissioner Bud Selig's edict to consider minority candidates for managerial hires. If the Astros were to remove the "interim" tag from Garner's title, it could be perceived as circumventing that edict.

However, the official said, there is no doubt Garner will be retained beyond this season. When Garner took over for Williams at the all-star break, the Astros were 44-44 and in fifth place in the National League Central division. He led them to a 48-26 mark in the second half.

Santana Set for Game 4

Johan Santana is ready to have at the Yankees again after pitching seven scoreless innings to win Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

"All I can tell you is my pitching coach [Rick Anderson] came walking by my office and he had a big smile on his face," Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. "[Santana] had a light little bullpen session [Thursday]. I think he's ready to take the ball in Game 4."

If the Twins don't win the series in four games, Brad Radke will start on three days' rest in Game 5 in New York Sunday against Mike Mussina.

Bradley in Lineup

Milton Bradley was back in the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup Thursday, a day following a clubhouse confrontation between the outfielder and a reporter he called an "Uncle Tom."

Rich Levin, a spokesman for the commissioner's office, said major league baseball officials had made several telephone calls on the matter. Levin said there will not be an investigation. . . .

Boston Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon is having a recurrence of migraine headaches that first bothered him after a collision in last year's playoffs. He is not expected to miss any playing time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Astros Manager Phil Garner, above, hired in midseason to replace the fired Jimy Williams, is still an "interim" manager but he likely will be retained.