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LAD@SD: Beckett fans eight in seven strong innings

After the Cardinals lost starting pitcher Shelby Miller to back spasms in the third inning of Tuesday's game, their rotation officially descended into chaos.

Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia are already missing because of injury, and St. Louis had to use five relief pitchers after Miller exited. There is no official word on whether Miller will be available for his next start.

That means that Carlos Martinez (three career starts) and Marco Gonzales (moved from Double-A to the Majors on Wednesday for his first start) might need to hold down spots in the rotation.

"It wasn't exactly how we lined it up," manager Mike Matheny said after Tuesday's game.

The good news for St. Louis is that two-time All-Star Adam Wainwright will be on the hill Thursday.

Wainwright (10-3, 2.08 ERA) has been outstanding this year, and he is an early Cy Young Award candidate in the National League. He held Philadelphia to one run in eight innings on Saturday in his latest outing, and that was after a 10-day layoff with elbow tendinitis. He kept Tampa Bay scoreless in seven innings on June 10.

The ace's ERA is good enough for second in the Majors (behind Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto at 1.86).

"Unbelievable," Matheny said. "This guy has just been so good. Taking a little break and coming back as sharp as he is, I don't know why I'm surprised, but to be as sharp as he is with a little time off, he looked like the Adam we've watched all season."

Wainwright feels good despite missing time.

"It felt like a normal arm," Wainwright said. "The game in Tampa Bay, even though I had decent results, that didn't feel good at all. It hurt. We got all that calmed down. … I don't know how many days I missed, nine or 10 days there. It felt like an eternity. It was the right move. It was the smart play, and I'll be ready for the rest of the season."

The Dodgers will counter with Josh Beckett (5-4, 2.28 ERA), who has also been magnificent this season.

The 34-year-old shut down the Padres in San Diego on June 21, tossing seven scoreless innings while giving up just four hits.

"If I get seven and 100 pitches, that's a pretty successful night," Beckett said. "At this point in my career, I'm not a complete-game guy. My stuff is not as good. I try to battle with what I have and get through six or seven innings."

This is the two teams' first meeting since October, when the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers, four games to two, in the NLCS. Beckett missed the series while recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery.

Cardinals: Injuries hurting chance to catch Brewers
When St. Louis called up Pete Kozma on Monday, it had no idea that Kozma would spend only two days with the club before being designated for assignment to make room for Gonzales in the rotation.

The move is just the latest example of roster instability. And while the Cardinals move through a rough stretch of hurt players, the division-leading Brewers are keeping their distance. Prior to the series opener, Milwaukee holds a lead of 4 1/2 games over St. Louis in the NL Central.

"We're not focused on them too much here," Matheny said. "I'd be lying to say we aren't watching [the Brewers] every once in a while, but we've just got to play good baseball. We still have over half the season left here to do that."

Dodgers: Guerrero reports with ear intact
Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, who had a portion of his ear bitten off by Triple-A Albuquerque teammate Miguel Olivo in a dugout altercation on May 20, has reported to the club's training facility in Arizona.

Surgery to save Guerrero's ear was successful, and he will soon resume baseball activity. Olivo, a 35-year-old veteran with 145 career Major League home runs, was released two days after the incident.

Worth noting
• Beckett has not given up more than four earned runs in a game all season (14 starts). Despite giving up just seven earned runs over his past five games, he has earned losses in three of them.

• Wainwright has allowed zero earned runs seven times in 15 starts. His ERA was down to 1.67 on May 25 before he gave up seven earned runs to the Giants.

• The Dodgers have won 12 of their past 17 games, a stretch during which they have moved from 9 1/2 games behind the Giants in the NL West to only three. Comments