Freese, Beltran don't start finale, but pinch-hit

Freese, Beltran don't start finale, but pinch-hit

ATLANTA -- Eyeing a series win over Atlanta, the Cardinals took the field on Wednesday without two of their most potent bats. Both nursing minor injuries, David Freese (right wrist soreness) and Carlos Beltran (right knee soreness) were not in the starting lineup.

Freese did not start in any of the three series games, though he did end up playing on Wednesday. Needing a pinch-hitter for Skip Schumaker -- who exited with right hamstring tightness -- in the seventh, manager Mike Matheny called on Freese. He flew out in that at-bat before staying in the game to play third base.

Freese was called out on strikes in his ninth-inning at-bat.

Freese was able to prepare for the game by taking a full session of batting practice. He had not taken swings a day earlier because of continued discomfort in his wrist.

Since missing four games with right knee soreness, Beltran had started 12 straight through Tuesday. However, that same knee "wasn't responding real well," Matheny said on Wednesday, which is what prompted the decision to sit Beltran. He, too, pinch-hit in the game, though Matheny immediately replaced him for a pinch-runner after he singled.

The timing of this setback wasn't exactly ideal, as Beltran has knocked around Atlanta's Tim Hudson, who started on Wednesday. In 74 at-bats against Hudson, Beltran has hit .351 with 17 RBIs.