LOS ANGELES -- Before Saturday's 9-1 loss became final, the wheels were already in motion to ensure the Cardinals would have another available arm in the bullpen for Sunday's series finale. That turned out to be Jorge Rondon, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Saturday.
Eric Fornataro was optioned to create space on the 25-man roster for Rondon.
The need to have sufficient bullpen coverage is particularly important given that the Cardinals don't entirely know how Shelby Miller's back will respond. Miller was confirmed as the next-day starter after Saturday's game, as he recovered well from throwing a bullpen session on Friday. He had exited his start in the third inning Tuesday because of back tightness and continued to deal with the issue for several days.
Adding Rondon and having used only two (Nick Greenwood and Fornataro) to cover the final six innings on Saturday will give the Cardinals ample backup.
"We could cover a whole game out of the 'pen if we had to tomorrow and would be all right with the off-day [on Monday]," manager Mike Matheny said. "A lot of that is attributed to Nick doing as good of a job as he did today. We didn't have to beat anybody up."
Greenwood a bright spot out of bullpen
LOS ANGELES -- Rotation instability has left the Cardinals needing to carry a long reliever, a job that Nick Greenwood may be seizing with the way he has pitched since a mid-June callup.
Greenwood was a savior for the Cardinals on Saturday, stepping in when Lance Lynn had to exit after two innings and carrying the game into the seventh. From there, he handed it off to Eric Fornataro, who was the only other St. Louis reliever needed in the 9-1 loss.
"A bright spot," manager Mike Matheny labeled Greenwood's appearance afterward. "He did a fantastic job again."
Greenwood has gone multiple innings in three of his five Major League appearances but is also asserting himself as more than a mop-up man. He entered with a one-run lead in his debut and eventually earned the win with 3 1/3 strong innings. A week ago, he was credited with his first career hold.
The Cardinals went most of the season's first half without a defined long reliever. Some recent hemorrhaging of the rotation, however, has altered the complexion of the 'pen.
"I knew coming up here that I would probably be the long guy if anything started to spiral a little," Greenwood said. "Obviously, the more times I can get out there, the nerves get a little less."
Saturday was an especially meaningful appearance for Greenwood because of who it was against. A native of Connecticut, Greenwood said he grew up idolizing Yankees hitter Don Mattingly, now the Dodgers' manager.
Because of that, he added that he "had just as many nerves today as I did on Opening Day." Greenwood hopes for an opportunity to introduce himself to his idol Sunday.
Peralta gets day off despite hot streak
LOS ANGELES -- Having already earmarked Saturday as a good time to rest Jhonny Peralta, manager Mike Matheny stuck with that decision despite Peralta's recent roll.
Peralta delivered the game-winning RBI in Friday's 3-1 win over the Dodgers and, in doing so, extended his hitting streak to eight games. While his average and on-base percentage still remain below his career averages in both, Peralta remains one of the most productive pieces in the Cardinals' lineup. He leads the team with 11 homers, 22 doubles and 33 extra-base hits.
"Right now, I feel pretty good with how I'm feeling," Peralta said. "It is a good time for me, and I'm swinging pretty good right now."
Signed primarily because of what he could offer with the bat, Peralta has somewhat surprisingly had just as much impact on the defensive end. The Cardinals lead the Majors with 58 defensive runs saved, and topping the team's individual player list is Peralta, with 12. No shortstop in the Majors has been credited with more.
"We just saw very consistent through Spring Training," Matheny said. "At the beginning of the year, you could see that everything at him he was making. But now, he's just making crazy good plays. Just continues to impress me."
Saturday marked just the second time in the last month that Peralta was out of the team's starting lineup. Daniel Descalso started in his place.
Kelly set for another rehab start on three days' rest
LOS ANGELES -- The Cardinals plan to bring Joe Kelly back on three days' rest to make a second start as part of the right-hander's Minor League rehab assignment.
Kelly threw 41 pitches in a two-inning appearance for Triple-A Memphis on Friday. He allowed two runs on two hits and three walks. His next start is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, and Kelly should be able to push toward a pitch count of 60 in it.
"He felt good. The results weren't there," said manager Mike Matheny, who discussed the outing with Kelly afterward. "A lot of that had to do with turning it up another notch. You can say you're going full speed in the 'pen and then you get into a game situation and you realize it's probably just another little bit left. Physically, he felt good."
The Cardinals intend to have Kelly build up the stamina that would allow him to transition back into the rotation when he comes off the disabled list. That could require more than just one more Minor League start for Kelly.
Cards' All-Star hopefuls need fan, peer votes
LOS ANGELES -- All-Star ballots have been distributed in Major League clubhouses across the country, this time so players can vote for their peers. That player vote will be wrapped up by the weekend and will play a key role in filling out the two All-Star Game rosters.
While the fans choose the starters for each position (besides pitcher), the group of reserves is determined through the player vote and then manager selection. All-Star rosters will be unveiled next weekend. Players are provided with stat packets in addition to their ballot to help in the process.
The Cardinals have had at least one player elected as a starter in each of the last five seasons, the longest active streak in the National League. Extending it will depend upon support from the fans. As of the most recent vote total release, the Cardinals had four position players -- Yadier Molina (first), Matt Carpenter (fourth), Jhonny Peralta (fourth) and Matt Adams (fifth) -- in the top 5 at their respective positions. Matt Holliday (12th) and Allen Craig (13th) dented the top 15 outfield list.
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.
• Matheny said there are no immediate plans to send lefty Kevin Siegrist (left shoulder discomfort) out on a Minor League rehab assignment. Siegrist went on the disabled list in May due to tightness in his forearm, but it is shoulder tightness delaying him now.
• With Roberto Espinoza having been added to the Major League staff as an extra bullpen catcher, the Cardinals had a late opening for a hitting coach with the short-season club in Johnson City (Tenn.). That has been filled by Chris Swauger, who had been an outfielder in the Cardinals' system since 2008. Swauger advanced as high as Double-A this season before making the transition.
• First baseman Xavier Scruggs (nine games) and shortstop Pete Kozma (seven games) extended their respective hitting streaks in Triple-A Memphis' 8-7 loss on Friday. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty paced the offense with a 3-for-5 game in which he drove in three and scored two runs. Tim Cooney, who followed Kelly on the mound, allowed four runs on four hits and three walks in five innings.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.