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Molina likely to start Friday vs. Brewers

Molina likely to start Friday vs. Brewers

CINCINNATI -- Yadier Molina took a small step back on Thursday, but he expects to be moving forward again by Friday night.

Molina was hit in the left knee by a foul bunt on Saturday in the Cardinals' division-clinching win in Colorado. He came out of that game and sat the next three games as he recuperated, but returned to the starting lineup on Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati.

However, in the fifth inning on Thursday, Molina was removed once again. The area tightened up, and he was pulled from a game that had already turned into a rout. The club initially called it quadriceps tightness, but manager Tony La Russa said it was more in the knee. The area around where he was hit -- which is in fact near the quadriceps, since Molina was hit on the top of his knee -- got tight as he played.

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Molina pointed to a very slow-moving game as one culprit.

"It was in the fourth inning, fifth inning, and we'd played two hours," he said. "It got tight. But I'm going to be OK tomorrow."

La Russa also said that he expects to play Molina on Friday against the Brewers, and that the flare-up was only a minor concern.

"He got a little gimpy there when he ran the bases," La Russa said. "That's why we got him out. But I think he'll be good. He'll play [Friday]."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Adam Wainwright (19-8, 2.58 ERA)
Wainwright will be going on an extra day of rest, and he can use it. He threw 130 pitches in the Cardinals' division-clinching win on Saturday in Colorado, and had to work hard for most of them. However, he may also have cemented a Cy Young Award with the performance. He'll be going for win No. 20, but it's unlikely that the Cardinals will push him in his last start before the playoffs.

MIL: RHP Braden Looper (13-7, 5.10 ERA)
Looper surrendered two more home runs in his most recent start and has served up 39 this season, most in the Majors and a Brewers record. He has allowed at least one homer in 12 of his past 13 starts. He's also allowed one in each of his two starts against St. Louis this season, but is 1-0 in those games with a 3.75 ERA.

Tidbits
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are a combined 12-for-55 (.218) with three home runs against Wainwright. ... Mark DeRosa is 2-for-20 against Looper. ... In two years as a starter with the Cardinals, Looper allowed 47 home runs, just eight more than he's given up this season alone with Milwaukee.

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
• Saturday: Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 6-9, 4.84) vs. Brewers (Dave Bush, 5-9, 6.38), 12:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Cardinals (Joel Pineiro, 15-12, 3.44) vs. Brewers (Chris Narveson, 2-0, 4.01), 1:15 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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