ST. LOUIS -- A day after the Cardinals faced the Giants with three players limited in their availability, the Cardinals were able to field a fully healthy team Thursday.
Allen Craig (bruised rib) and Rafael Furcal (back stiffness) returned to the lineup, and Skip Schumaker (sore left wrist) was available on manager Mike Matheny's bench.
The timing of Wednesday's onslaught of injuries put Matheny in a spot where he couldn't pull the trigger on using a position player to pitch the final inning of a 15-0 loss to the Giants. Had Schumaker been healthy, Matheny said he likely would have called upon him to make his second Major League pitching appearance.
Schumaker was nursing a sore wrist after being hit by a pitch a night earlier, though he did tell Matheny during Wednesday's game that he was willing to pitch. Still, Matheny chose not to go that route.
"We could have used Skip," Matheny said. "But that's a bad situation."
Matheny's hesitancy to send a position player to the mound left him having to call upon eighth-inning setup man Mitchell Boggs to pitch in a game where the club was already down by 11. Boggs ended up allowing a ninth-inning grand slam, which snapped his string of 23 consecutive scoreless appearances.
"It's not the ideal situation, but it is what it is," Boggs said. "I was the guy whose name was called when the phone rang, and I tried to go out there and throw the ball like I did every other night. I just walked a couple of guys and left a fastball up."
Jay laying claim to leadoff spot in Cards' order
ST. LOUIS -- It appears as if the Cardinals have settled on a new regular leadoff hitter, at least for as long as it takes Rafael Furcal to move past the nagging back stiffness that has coincided with his drop in production.
Manager Mike Matheny plugged Jon Jay into that leadoff spot for a second straight game Thursday. And, encouraged by how Jay has seemingly turned a corner offensively, Matheny seems ready to keep the center fielder there.
"I do like Jon Jay at the top of the lineup, especially with the way he's swinging the bat right now, even against the lefties," Matheny said after the Cardinals' 3-1 win Thursday. "He puts together a good at-bat. He's not afraid to work the count.
"Now, with that being said, I think we all saw where Rafael Furcal, when he is right, what he can do at the top of the lineup, so we're not ruling out that that's going to come back around. But right now it's a good fit for Raffy to sit down in the eight-spot and really work the count. I'm confident he's going to get back there, and we'll have a tough decision about how to use that leadoff spot."
Jay would seem to fit the mold of what the Cardinals are looking for at that top spot in the order. His .383 on-base percentage is third-best on the club, behind only Matt Holliday and Skip Schumaker. Jay, as he displayed Thursday, also has the speed to set up RBI opportunities for the team's middle-of-the-lineup hitters.
Jay swiped two bases Thursday, giving him a team-leading 13 this season.
"Just every day I'm working hard, trying to keep it simple and have good at-bats," said Jay, downplaying any significance to where he hits in the order.
Jay has been getting on base with regularity lately, too. He has notched four straight multi-hit games, going 10-for-15 during that stretch.
With Tyler Greene no longer on the club, Daniel Descalso is likely to continue to receive regular playing time. He remains the primary backup at shortstop for Furcal, who continues to need days off as he nurses back stiffness. And when Descalso isn't needed at short, he's been Matheny's usual choice to start at second base.
The Phillies have set their rotation for their upcoming series against the Cardinals, which begins at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. St. Louis will face the following three starters: Roy Halladay (5-6, 4.02 ERA), Cliff Lee (2-6, 3.78 ERA) and Vance Worley (6-7, 3.83 ERA).
Pitching prospect Trevor Rosenthal allowed six earned runs on six hits in a five-inning start for Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday. The start was Rosenthal's second since joining Memphis' rotation.
On Thursday, the Cardinals announced plans to hold their eighth annual Career Day at Busch Stadium on Sept. 20. Participating middle school and high school students with an interest in pursuing a career in professional sports can attend a panel discussion, as well as that afternoon's 12:45 p.m. CT game between the Cardinals and Astros. Tickets for the event cost $15 and can be purchased at cardinals.com/careerday.
As part of the Cardinals' "Cards Win, You Save" promotion, the club will put a select number of $19 tickets on sale for $4 beginning at 10 a.m. CT on Friday. The discount comes as a result of the club taking off $3 for each of the five Cardinals wins during the homestand. The discounted tickets will be available for the team's upcoming series against the D-backs (Aug. 14-16) and Astros (Aug. 21-23). The tickets, which are for seats in the right-field and left-field pavilion, are available online only at cardinals.com/win.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.