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Struggling Franklin to get day off

Struggling Franklin to get day off

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MILWAUKEE -- The one thing a closer usually wants after a blown save is the one thing Ryan Franklin isn't going to get: the chance to come back out and atone the next day.

Franklin has hit his first rough patch of the year, allowing two runs on Sunday and taking his third blown save of the year, five days after allowing two runs while recording a save. In his past seven games, Franklin has issued seven walks, after issuing 10 in his first 48 appearances.

"[My command] hasn't been where I want it to be," Franklin said. "A little erratic, more than normal. ... Everybody goes through little stretches like this."

And he's right. Every pitcher hits a slump now and then. But Franklin has been so good this year, and so integral to the Cardinals' success, that the club is going to be sure to protect him. He won't be available for Tuesday's game in Milwaukee, and maybe not for Wednesday's series finale, either.

It's not that he's hurt. It's simply that the club wants to be proactive, resting its ninth-inning man to keep him from getting too worn down before October.

"When he's had a nice rest, his stuff has a little more life and it's easier," said manager Tony La Russa. "But it is the sixth month of the season. When you reach a little deeper, sometimes the tank is not as full, which is perfectly understandable. So we're going to have to deal with it."

So the Cardinals will mix and match if they have a lead in the late innings. Jason Motte has seen action at the end of games this year, and Kyle McClellan has pitched late with a lead. La Russa has tremendous confidence in left-hander Trever Miller as well.

But still, things will be a little more complicated for the next day or two.

"This series is going to be one where our starters hopefully will pitch effectively and get into the last part of the game, [but] we can't push them ridiculously," La Russa said. "Our offense will have to score some runs. And there will be some guys like [Brad] Thompson, [Todd] Wellemeyer, [Mitchell] Boggs, whoever, some of the other guys who are not the normal guys will have to get some outs."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP John Smoltz (3-6, 6.63 ERA)
Smoltz felt he was two pitches away from an excellent outing against the Brewers on Thursday. He'll get a chance to make up for those two pitches just five days later. This will be his toughest assignment yet since his return to the National League, not only facing the potent Brewers but doing so at their home park. His strikeout and walk rates have been outstanding, and if he keeps those up, he should be just fine.

MIL: LHP Manny Parra (10-10, 6.47 ERA)
Parra pitched his best game in six weeks on Thursday in St. Louis, when he surrendered two runs on three hits in the first inning but then allowed only two more hits into the seventh. A trio of relievers helped finish that inning, leaving Parra in line for his seventh win in nine decisions since his demotion to Triple-A. It's a somewhat deceiving streak, since the lefty has a 6.09 ERA in those 10 starts. He's 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals this season.

Tidbits
Mike Cameron is 3-for-26 (.115) against Smoltz, but Craig Counsell is 9-for-19 (.474). ... Ryan Ludwick is 6-for-18 against Parra with two home runs.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-M HD

On radio
• KTRS 550

Up next
• Wednesday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 17-7, 2.68) at Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 6-8, 4.97), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Cardinals (Joel Pineiro, 14-9, 3.28) vs. Braves (Jair Jurrjens, 10-10, 2.93), 7:15 p.m. CT

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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