Beltran sits again due to struggles at plate
CHICAGO -- Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup for a second straight day Friday as manager Mike Matheny tries to get him going at the plate.
Beltran, who is hitting just .197 in July, has not started in four of the 14 games since the All-Star break.
"When I saw him two days ago, he was really fighting and I knew that one day probably wasn't going to be enough," Matheny said. "He was pretty good today but understood that the second day can sometimes be a lot more beneficial.
"I don't think anybody has any question how valuable he is to us, so to sacrifice one day to get him in there and get back to where he had been for a good part of the season was a good trade."
The switch-hitting Beltran is hitting .287 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI overall in 94 games this season. Matheny has been proactive in giving the 35-year-old extra rest for his knees, which have bothered him in the past.
Beltran downplayed any possible injury or soreness before Friday's game, saying he felt fine physically and had hoped to play.
"He decided to give me two days, that's it," Beltran said. "There is nothing wrong with my knees. I feel good man.
"I thought I was going to be in the lineup today but he said to me that he feels he wanted to give me another day."
FREESE OUT WITH CALF SORENESS: Third baseman David Freese was also out of the starting lineup Friday with lingering calf soreness after being removed from Thursday's game against the Dodgers.
Freese went 3-for-3 Thursday before leaving with what was initially described as cramping in his right calf. The condition may have elevated to a slight strain, but the infielder expects to be in the lineup on Saturday.
"If it was a different type of circumstances I could try to push it but it's just a little sore still," Freese said. "It's not grabbing or anything. … I think I'll be in there tomorrow."
Matheny said Freese was available to pinch-hit Friday if needed.
"It's still tight," Matheny said. "Obviously it started as a cramp and kind of turned into something that's lingered a little bit so we'll have to just keep our eye on it."
BERKMAN RETURNS: Lance Berkman returned to the lineup Friday after not starting the previous two games with right knee soreness.
Berkman singled and scored in his first at-bat before launching a solo home run in the third inning of the Cardinals 9-6 win over the Cubs.
"I still feel a little gimpy but I'm able to compete and for me, as long as I feel that way, I'm going to go out there and do the best I can," Berkman said. "It's not perfect but it's definitely playable and as long as I feel like I can get out there and be effective, I want to be out there."
Berkman was drilled in the right knee Tuesday in the same spot he had surgery earlier this year. He walked in a pinch-hit appearance Wednesday but was removed for a pinch-runner.
BULLPEN BREAK: The Cardinals gave reliever Mitchell Boggs a rare day off Friday after using him in three straight games. Boggs had either appeared or warmed up in nearly every game this month.
Closer Jason Motte earned his 23rd save with a scoreless ninth, his fourth inning of work and third appearance in the past three days. And Fernando Salas worked a third of an inning after throwing more than 30 pitches during an extra-inning appearance on Wednesday night.
"We're going to be careful with him," Matheny said of Boggs before the game. "We stretched out Salas one day in the extra inning games so we also have to be careful there. Now whether or not we completely shut them down ahead of time, the game dictates a lot. Motte has gone back-to-back days but we're not at that point where we say he's not closing today but that's not something I would normally give before a game anyhow."
GARCIA THROWS: Left-hander Jaime Garcia threw two sets of 20 pitches during a simulated game at the Cardinals spring training complex in Jupiter. It's the second time Garcia has faced hitters. He could face hitters one more time or begin a rehab assignment, likely at one of the affiliates in Jupiter.