When Hanley Ramirez disappeared headfirst into the stands at Wrigley Field on Sunday the Dodgers' chances of winning the World Series might have vanished with him.

Ramirez who tumbled into the seats down the left-field line after catching a wind-blown pop up emerged from the seventh-inning wreckage with what the Dodgers described as a "jammed" right shoulder. The preliminary diagnosis was purposely vague as the Dodgers didn't know whether the outstanding hitter would be sidelined for days weeks or months. Ramirez is expected to undergo an MRI exam Monday in St. Louis.

High-ranking club officials said they were bracing themselves for the worst which could explain why the atmosphere in the clubhouse was noticeably downcast in the wake of a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Although Yasiel Puig was expected back soon from a bruised thumb he suffered Saturday Ramirez's throwing arm was cradled by a sling. There was more concern about Ramirez than there was excitement about how the Dodgers extended their franchise-record road winning streak to 14 games.

"Anything with him is serious because of what he's been able to do" Manager Don Mattingly said.

Ramirez played only four games in the first two months of the season after which the Dodgers were in last place. The Dodgers are 51/2 games ahead of the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.

"What I said for a long time our missing link was Hanley Ramirez" hitting coach Mark McGwire said. "The way he hits the baseball he hits it right. You talk about a guy who hits the ball hard he hits it with backspin he has complete plate coverage he knows exactly what the pitcher's trying to do to him. It cannot help but rub off on everybody."

The only definitive statement Mattingly made about Ramirez's shoulder was that it wasn't dislocated. Mattingly who has acknowledged intentionally misleading reporters about the severity of injuries wouldn't say whether he thought Ramirez was headed back to the disabled list.

Ramirez thought he would avoid his third DL stint this season but the former batting champion acknowledged that was largely because he didn't want to consider the alternative.

Ramirez offered some more concrete reasons for his optimism. He said he never felt anything pop in his shoulder. He added that he felt worse when he suffered a similar injury playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and returned to play later in the winter.