CINCINNATI -- If Ryan Franklin isn't named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday, it won't be his fault. The Cardinals' closer has done just about everything he can do to bolster his own case.

It's just that opportunities have been somewhat scarce at times for Franklin, who has converted 20 of his 21 save chances this year. And he probably won't get any more before Sunday, when All-Star rosters are announced. After pitching three consecutive games, he's likely to be held out until at least Tuesday.

That means some combination of other relievers will be called on to protect any ninth-inning leads the Cards have in the next two days, with Jason Motte and Dennys Reyes at the top of the list. After relying on Franklin in the ninth for the past 2 1/2 months, the Redbirds will spend the weekend figuring out other ways to close out wins. Maybe it will be another means of showing the right-hander's value.

Franklin has never been an All-Star, and he knows this is likely to be his best chance.

"I think about it, yeah," Franklin said. "As far as thinking about it to get in the way of my work, no. But it would be a great experience for me and my family and everybody that's around me. It's something special. It would mean a lot."

Every save helps Franklin's case, which by any other measure is rock-solid. He sports a sub-1.00 ERA, he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3-to-1, and he's even gone a little bit old-school at times with four saves of four outs or more.

It's work that has not gone unnoticed in the Cardinals' clubhouse.

"He's been outstanding," starter Adam Wainwright said. "He's solidified everything down there. There's no question of who's got the ninth, and there's no question whether he's going to get the job done. ... [He's a ] great clubhouse guy. [He's] great for the bullpen, we have a bunch of young guys down there and he's been around for a long time. I'd love to see him [get it]. Everybody would."

Manager Tony La Russa would love a chance to do a little bit of lobbying for his closer. It's possible that he'll get to, since he's a coach on manager Charlie Manuel's staff.

"I think it would have great meaning to him," La Russa said. "There's a lot of competition, but I know he's being considered."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Brad Thompson (2-4, 4.69 ERA)
Thompson gave up four runs in six innings against the Giants on Monday. Three of the runs came on a home run by Travis Ishikawa. Thompson didn't pitch all that bad but was victimized by leaving a first-pitch fastball out over the plate that Ishikawa hammered. With Kyle Lohse nearing a return from the disabled list, Thompson is in need of a strong outing to stake his claim for the fifth starter's spot that he is battling for with Todd Wellemeyer. Thompson has gone at least five innings in five of his six starts and has finished six innings in three of his past four.

CIN: RHP Micah Owings (5-8, 4.63 ERA)
Owings pitched well in an 8-1 win over the Indians on Sunday, just one start after giving up a career-high six runs against the Blue Jays. Owings pitched six innings, giving up five hits and one run while striking out four and walking four. It was the first quality start by a Reds pitcher since June 21. Owings will aim for another on Saturday against the Cardinals. He is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in his only start against St. Louis.

Tidbits
Jay Bruce is 0-for-7 against Thompson. ... Albert Pujols has faced Owings twice, with one double and one triple. ... The Cardinals are 27-9 when Skip Schumaker scores a run.

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Up next
• Sunday: Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 5-3, 2.42) at Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 8-7, 5.69), 12:10 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 8-5, 3.32) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 8-5, 2.75), 7:05 p.m. CT