STL@ATL: Kelly shuts out Braves over 6 1/3 innings

ATLANTA -- Unless a Trade Deadline acquisition changes the complexion of the Cardinals' pitching staff, the organization plans to keep Joe Kelly in the rotation. That means Kelly will start on Thursday, the team's final game in Pittsburgh.

Because of frequent off-days, the Cardinals haven't needed a fifth starter consistently for the past month. As a result, Kelly only pitched three times in July. But having just opened a stretch of 37 games in 37 days, the Cardinals can no longer default to a four-man rotation.

Kelly, who threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cardinals' loss on Saturday, earned the opportunity to stay in a starting role.

"He did a great job [Saturday]," Matheny said on Sunday. "It was just a real good day. His pace, his determination, you could tell he had a real good idea what he wanted to do with every pitch and executed very well yesterday."

Kelly's infrequent use has put a limitation on how many pitches he's been able to throw in his starts. Getting the opportunity to pitch on a regular turn will eliminate that tight leash. If the situation dictates, Kelly should be free to push to a pitch count of 100 his next time out.

In four starts this season, Kelly has posted a 2.31 ERA and held opponents to a batting average of .218.

Worth noting

• General manager John Mozeliak said that top prospect Oscar Taveras is close to being cleared to resume running. Though the outfielder has not run for almost two weeks now, he has been able taking batting practice. Taveras continues to recover from a right ankle sprain that he suffered in May.

• Seth Maness entered the day leading all National League relievers with 11 double plays induced this season. His 2.91 double plays per nine innings is also tops in the league, and the rookie right-hander has allowed only six of 32 inherited runners to score.

"He had some good outings in Spring Training, but did we realize this would be his job description? No," manager Mike Matheny said. "Obviously, we've realized it here over the last couple of months that it's not just a knack, but that's what his pitch style really induces. It's a great opportunity to get him in there."

• Right-hander Chris Carpenter remains shut down from throwing and without indication on when -- or whether -- he'll be able to resume a throwing program. Carpenter experienced recurring numbness in his hand when pitching last weekend.

• The Pirates have not officially named a starter for the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader but have set the rest of their rotation for Cardinals' upcoming five-game series. Francisco Liriano (10-4, 2.23 ERA) will start against St. Louis on Monday, and A.J. Burnett (4-7, 2.96 ERA) will pitch Game 1 of the doubleheader. Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.15 ERA) and Charlie Morton (3-2, 3.59 ERA) will start the final two games.