The Cardinals and Pirates got into a brief shoving match during batting practice last night in Pittsburgh, prompting the umpires to hold a pregame meeting with managers Tony La Russa and Lloyd McClendon.

It did not appear any punches were thrown during the four-minute scuffle, which occurred with the Pirates finishing up their hitting and the Cardinals stretching. St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan and Pittsburgh hitting coach Gerald Perry appeared to be restrained by teammates.

"There was some pushing and shoving, just two competitive clubs," McClendon said. "Both clubs want to win. Things probably got a little bit out of hand."

The Cardinals-Pirates series already had been a rough one before tempers flared. The previous two days, each team had a player injured.

McClendon and La Russa talked behind the batting cage for 10 minutes after the fray. They later met in an eight-minute, closed-door session requested by umpires.

Last season, McClendon and La Russa were each suspended for two games after getting into a shouting match that caused both benches to empty. Both were fined. Also, McClendon complained about a dirty cap Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez was wearing in a game, which resulted in Tavarez being ejected.

* ARAMIS HURT: Cubs all-star 3B Aramis Ramirez left yesterday's game against the Braves with a strained left quadriceps muscle. Ramirez injured his leg while grounding into a double play in the first inning at Wrigley Field. An MRI exam revealed a moderate to severe strain of the quadriceps and Ramirez was to be reevaluated today or tomorrow.

-- From News Services

The Cubs' Aramis Ramirez suffers a strained left quadriceps against Atlanta.