STL@COL: Miller exits game due to back injury

LOS ANGELES -- Though Shelby Miller thought he was ready to prove himself healthy by throwing off the mound on Thursday, the Cardinals reined him in and limited Miller to a session of flat-ground throwing. Whether he makes his next scheduled start on Sunday will be determined by how his back continues to respond to treatment and each subsequent push.

Miller said there is "no question" he'll start as scheduled but then backed off that assertion somewhat by admitting that he continues to deal with back tightness. He explained that the discomfort has moved to his lower back after being concentrated in his upper-to-middle back during Tuesday's start. He exited that outing in the third inning.

"I don't know what the reason is behind it," Miller added. "We're doing things in the training room to get it loosened up, doing heat packs and stuff like that. Every day it's gotten better."

Miller said he was unsure whether he'd throw off the mound on Friday or if a bullpen session was even necessary before starting on Sunday. Should the Cardinals choose to keep him off the mound, Miller will continue with the flat-ground throwing.

If Miller is unable to make the start, the Cardinals would have to summon another spot starter from the Minors. Lefties Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney would appear to be the likeliest candidates should that callup be needed.

Gonzales to start Tuesday as Cards stick to rotation

STL@COL: Gonzales fans Stubbs for first big league K

LOS ANGELES -- Rather than use Monday's day off to skip the fifth spot in the rotation the next turn through, the Cardinals will have lefty Marco Gonzales make another start Tuesday to open a three-game series in San Francisco.

Manager Mike Matheny made that announcement on Thursday, one day after Gonzales pitched five innings in his Major League debut. Gonzales allowed five runs (all in the fourth inning) on seven hits and two walks. The offense later took him off the hook for the loss. The lefty had the added wrinkle of making his debut just an hour away from his hometown and with hundreds of family and friends in the stands.

"I saw enough from Marco yesterday, you put him in a spot that's not Colorado, that's not filled with all the other stuff, I really liked what he was doing," Matheny said. "I know [pitching coach Derek Lilliquist] is eager to challenge him on the use of some of his pitches and how to open up the plate a little more for him."

This time, Gonzales will enjoy a little more normalcy leading up to the start. He'll get an extra day of rest and will be able to do all his between-start throwing in front of the Major League staff. In advance of his debut, Gonzales spent just one day with the big league club.

With their rotation already patched up, the Cardinals preferred not to revert to a four-man rotation, even if just temporarily.

"We get to this point in the season and any time we can get guys an extra days as we start seeing some of our starters beat up, it's not anything we're going to shy away from giving them that extra day," Matheny said.

Yadier closing in on sixth straight All-Star selection

PHI@STL: Molina throws out Rollins at second base

LOS ANGELES -- Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy may have inched closer to Yadier Molina in the most recent release of All-Star Game voting totals, but the Cardinals catcher has just one more week to hold off the competition and earn his sixth consecutive All-Star selection.

No Cardinals player since Albert Pujols (2003-10) has been named to the All-Star team in six straight seasons. Last year, Molina led all National League players in total votes. As of Monday, he trailed only Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in votes. And with Adam Wainwright making a case to earn the start for the NL club, Molina, if voted in, could have the unique opportunity to catch his longtime teammate in the game.

Though Molina currently ranks fourth in batting average (.285) and eighth in on-base percentage (.335) among all NL catchers with at least 100 plate appearances, he remains the gold standard behind the plate. Molina has thrown out 47 percent of runners trying to steal on him, tops among all Major League catchers.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.

Taveras' four hits spark Triple-A Memphis

Oscar Taveras on his first Major League hit, home run

The Cardinals' No. 1 prospect Oscar Taveras collected four hits Thursday, but Triple-A Memphis lost, 9-1, to Round Rock.

All of Taveras' hits were singles and he finished the night 4-for-5. It was his second four-hit game of the season. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals' No. 2 prospect, added two hits and a walk.

Taveras, ranked No. 2 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects, made his Major League debut May 31. He hit .189/.225/.297 in 11 games with the Cardinals before being sent back to Memphis when Matt Adams came off the disabled list.

Part of the reason Taveras was sent down to Memphis was to get him everyday at bats again. He has done just that and, in 12 games since returning to Triple-A, he is hitting .318/.375/.455. That slash line nearly matches his overall numbers this season with the Redbirds. In 61 games, he is hitting .323/.374/.511 with eight home runs in 61 games.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Joe Kelly will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Friday when he starts for Triple-A Memphis. General manager John Mozeliak said that Kelly is expected to throw 40-60 pitches in the outing.

• A day after Trevor Rosenthal threw 41 pitches in a relief appearances, Matheny admitted there was some carryover concern as to how the closer would respond a day after the taxing appearance. Though Matheny does not, for competitive reasons, disclose pregame whether any of his relievers are unavailable, Rosenthal is not expected to be used on Thursday, even if a save situation arises.

• Aledmys Diaz and Cody Stanley both had three-hit games as Double-A Springfield opened the second half of its season with a 7-4 loss on Wednesday. Starter Sam Gaviglio allowed two runs on three hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

• As a result of some of the recent roster shuffling with the Cardinals, the organization promoted right-hander Seth Blair, right-hander Joey Donofrio and infielder Luis Mateo from Double-A to Triple-A this week.