ST. LOUIS -- After hitting a grand slam on May 17, David Freese said he didn't know if it signaled the end to his month-and-a-half slump. But the 30-year-old third baseman has recorded a hit in every game he played since that day, tying his career-high hit streak at 12 consecutive games.
Before that grand slam -- his first home run of the season -- Freese was batting .209 with just four RBIs and a .287 on-base percentage through his first 101 plate appearances. But in the 12 games since, Freese is batting an outstanding .357 with three home runs, 13 RBIs and a .426 OBP.
"It's just baseball," Freese said. "You're gonna have your ups and downs. Some guys will pick you up when you're not doing so well, and hopefully you can pick up some guys when they're not doing too well. Six months, every year, year-in, year-out guys play well or they don't. That's just how the game works."
With his recent success at the plate, Freese has upped his average to .256 after it dipped as low as .163 on April 29.
"He worked out some tweaks in his swing mechanically, but we all knew that was going to happen sooner or later," Matheny said. "The track record is too good to prove otherwise. He just needs to figure out how to stay there.
"That's the secret of this game. All these guys go through these periods where they feel right and see it and just have to figure out how to shorten the periods in the other direction."
Carpenter faces live batters for first time in recovery
ST. LOUIS -- For the first time during his shoulder rehab, Chris Carpenter faced live batters Monday.
Carpenter threw about 40 total pitches from the mound, and about half were to Shane Robinson and Matt Adams. Carpenter hadn't yet met with trainers to discuss the next step in his rehab, but he said afterward that he felt good during the session.
"This is 3 o'clock in the afternoon to a bunch of guys that aren't even warmed up yet, so this isn't by any means at game speed and game ready," Carpenter said. "But you still get that reaction to see if they're a little late on your fastball, or if you're getting the ball by them or the sharpness of your stuff. I got some swings and misses on my breaking ball today, but you know, we still got a long ways to go."
Carpenter was initially supposed to face batters last Tuesday, but he slowed down his throwing program after experiencing fatigue when throwing an earlier bullpen. He said Monday that this was the first time he's felt good after three consecutive sessions -- the last two bullpens, and today against batters.
"Before we were throwing a couple good ones and having a couple bad ones, so this is the first time where I've had three in a row go well and I've been able to get up there consistently three times in a row," Carpenter said. "My stuff was OK today, but it certainly needs to get better."
Robinson, who faced pitches from Carpenter around this time last year when he was working his way back from nerve-related shoulder issues, said Carpenter's performance today was "night and day" better than at this point last season.
"It wasn't pinpoint accuracy with everything, but he had an idea with what he was doing with every pitch," Robinson said. "He was just off on a couple pitches, fine-tuning it. But he looked good. He looked like had a lot of good movement."
Though at one point, it appeared this injury might signal an end to Carpenter's career, he has defied expectations, and Monday's session was another positive step for the 38-year-old right-hander.
"I wasn't ever going to give up. I never said that I was not going to try," Carpenter said. "Fortunately, my body has recovered and my arm has recovered, so we're going to go out and continue to do it and see what happens."
Kelly to get the start on Wednesday
ST. LOUIS -- With the rotation out of sync after rain pushed Shelby Miller's last start from Friday to the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Joe Kelly will fill in as Wednesday's starter against Arizona.
Kelly went 5-7 in 16 starts as a rookie last season, while posting 3.53 ERA with 36 walks and 75 strikeouts in 107 innings. Working out of the bullpen this season, Kelly has allowed 14 earned runs and seven walks while striking out 19 in 18 2/3 innings.
He threw 62 pitches in three innings of work against the Dodgers on May 25 and Matheny said he isn't concerned about Kelly, who hasn't pitched since Thursday, needing to be stretched out before his first start this season.
"He threw 60-something pitches without even having to be built up at all," Matheny said. "So I think, especially with extended rest, he should be in good shape to go."
Miller will resume his place ahead of Adam Wainwright on Thursday, and the rotation will continue as usual with Wainwright on Friday.
Molina suspended, fined after ejection
ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina has received a one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for making contact with second-base umpire Mike Everitt on Sunday.
Molina's suspension was scheduled to be served Monday night, but the Cardinals catcher has appealed, postponing the suspension until the appeal process is over.
After being called out at first in the third inning of Sunday's game against the Giants, Molina slammed his helmet to the ground and, as he turned toward the dugout, was immediately ejected by first-base umpire Clint Fagan. After the ejection, manager Mike Matheny ran out onto the field in protest and was also removed from the game.
Molina had to be restrained from Fagan and as he fought against his brother, Bengie Molina, the fill-in first-base coach who was holding him back, it appeared Molina may have made contact with Everitt. Matheny insisted Monday afternoon, before the suspension was announced, that there was no contact.
"I still stand by the fact -- and I watched it again last night -- that he didn't make contact with the umpire," Matheny said. "The other umpire that stepped in was aggressively stepping in, like Bengie was as well, but that wasn't really the issue. The first-base umpire was never in contact with him, so that shouldn't be an issue."
Matheny spoke out strongly against Molina's ejection in his postgame press conference Sunday and may also face discipline from the league for his comments.
"The best part of Yadi's greatness is his intensity and his passion for the game, for winning," Matheny said. "That's all that play was about. ... It's not about anything else except for us getting one run closer to catching up. That's all it was."
• Second baseman Kolten Wong and reliever Kevin Siegrist were named the Cardinals' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month.
The left-handed Siegrist, selected in the 41st round in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings last month with Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. He surrendered just four hits and six walks while striking out 21 batters.
Wong batted .375 with four homers and eight RBIs while stringing together a 15-game hitting streak in Memphis. He was the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
• As he continues to be stretched out as a regular starter in Triple-A, Carlos Martinez threw four scoreless innings Sunday in the first of two Redbirds shutout victories over Omaha.
Martinez, who made seven relief appearances for the Cardinals this season, surrendered two hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out four.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.