San Diego Padres right-hander Jake Peavy defiantly said he would like to pitch again this season, even as General Manager Kevin Towers labeled that prospect highly unlikely. And all parties -- Peavy, Towers and Manager Bruce Bochy -- spent much of yesterday insisting they couldn't pinpoint exactly when Peavy fractured the eighth rib in his right side.

"I don't think anybody knows," Towers said.

Peavy, who allowed eight runs in the Padres' Game 1 loss to St. Louis, originally said he may have suffered the injury when the Padres were celebrating winning the National League West championship last week.

"I woke up the next morning and told my wife, 'I must've gotten elbowed or something,' " Peavy said yesterday. "My ribs are sore."

But all parties said Peavy's bullpen and warmup sessions went well, and there was no cause for concern. It's possible, all parties said, that Peavy merely had bruises after the celebration, but the rib broke during Tuesday's game, perhaps when Peavy caught a spike and threw a wild pitch in the third inning.

The Padres originally said Peavy would be out four to six weeks, ruling out a return this postseason even in event the Padres advance. Peavy said yesterday that the injury bothered him when he took a deep breath, sneezed or yawned. Still, he left open the possibility of returning.

"If I can, I want to pitch," Peavy said.

Towers, though, said he is concerned Peavy might alter his delivery because of the rib, and risk worse damage. "You throw a pitch a certain way, and the elbow goes," Towers said.

Good Move

Houston Manager Phil Garner's decision to move Morgan Ensberg to the fourth spot in the lineup paid off yesterday in Game 1 when Ensberg had three hits and five RBI in 10-5 win. Lance Berkman usually hits in the fourth spot.

"I moved him for Morgan," Garner said. "When he came back from the hand injury, I wanted him in a position where guys are going to have to pitch to him and he's going to get pitches. I switched him back because I didn't think he was swinging the bat that good. I prefer to have Lance in that third hole and as it turned out today, Morgan came through big."

Svrluga reported from St. Louis, Arangure Jr. from Atlanta.