LOS ANGELES -- Similar to the stretch Matt Holliday endured in April, David Freese finds himself stuck in a rut where, despite making plenty of hard contact, the hits aren't falling.
Freese has only three hits in his last eight games (27 at-bats), and all three came on one night in San Francisco. A batting average that sat at .312 on May 9 has since dipped to .272, a season low for the Cardinals' starting third baseman.
"I'm just going through one of those times that every baseball player goes through," Freese said. "I think if a couple balls fall in, my month probably looks pretty good. It's frustrating, but I'll just keep pushing through."
What Freese does not intend to do is react to this drop in productivity by making any changes. He is not concentrated on altering anything mechanically, nor does he put a strong focus on knocking down his strikeout numbers. Doing so, Freese noted, would only take away from the aggressiveness that is also key to his stretches of success.
Freese has struck out a team-high 35 times this year.
"We've seen some hard outs," manager Mike Matheny said. "My only concern would be how he perceives those. It would be nice to be rewarded with a hit. He's exceptionally hard on himself. It's just a matter of making sure that he's seeing that he's hitting the ball hard."
Arguably the hardest hit ball of this recent bunch came on Friday, when Freese lined out to Dodgers third baseman Adam Kennedy with one on in the sixth inning of a 4-4 game. He stranded two in his next at-bat by striking out to end the inning in a game the Cardinals lost, 6-5.
"I feel good at the plate," Freese said. "I'm just not executing, and that's what this game is all about. It's about production. But I feel good, and I'm just going to keep at it."
Beltran in the lineup for second straight game
LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Beltran gave his manager the "OK" on Saturday, which is all Mike Matheny needed to insert Beltran back into the Cardinals starting lineup for a second straight day.
Starting for the first time in five days, Beltran played eight innings on Friday against the Dodgers and complained of no substantial right knee soreness afterward. His status truly remains day to day, meaning that, at least for the immediate future, Matheny will continue to chat daily with Beltran before writing out a lineup.
Matheny dissented when asked whether the club was willing to make some compromise on defense in order to get Beltran's bat in the lineup. Matheny said Beltran "looked normal" after some initial hesitancy chasing down the first ball that came his way in the outfield on Friday. Others, however, weren't convinced that Beltran ran at full speed.
Regardless, it seems as if the Cardinals will continue to play Beltran unless he becomes a liability in the field or risks doing more damage to his already surgically repaired right knee.
Beltran went 2-for-4 on Friday. And despite missing time recently, he still leads the National League with eight homers and 21 RBIs in May.
Star pitching prospect on Class A disabled list
LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Martinez, ranked by MLB.com as the Cardinals' second-best prospect, has been placed on the High Class A disabled list with mild shoulder tendinitis.
According to farm director John Vuch, the organization projects that Martinez will be able to return to the mound in approximately two weeks. Vuch called the decision to DL the 20-year-old Martinez more of "a precaution than anything serious."
Martinez felt soreness during his May 14 start for Palm Beach, and the Cardinals want to ensure that he doesn't compromise mechanics by pitching through that soreness. That outing was the least effective of Martinez's seven this season. He allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk in four innings.
On the season, Martinez is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He has walked 10 and struck out 34 in 33 innings. If he returns as expected, Martinez will lose only about three starts.
Sunday's 7 p.m. CT game against the Dodgers marks the first of three Cardinals games scheduled to be highlighted as ESPN's Sunday Night Game of the Week. The June 3 game against the Mets in New York and the July 15 contest in Cincinnati are the two others.
On Friday, Lance Berkman wasn't the first Cardinal to tie a game against the Dodgers with a home run when down to the team's final out. It was also done on May 7, 1951, when Del Rice homered off Preacher Roe at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The last Cardinal to hit a game-tying homer with two out in the ninth had been Matt Holliday. He connected for a solo homer off Milwaukee's Trevor Hoffman on April 11, 2010. Like Friday, St. Louis also lost that game in the bottom half of the frame.
Since starting the season 9-3, the Cardinals have gone 13-14, which includes a 4-5 mark against non-National League Central opponents. Still, they have held a division lead of at least 2 1/2 games for all but one day since April 14.
Infield prospect Kolten Wong homered on Friday and again on Saturday for Double-A Springfield. Wong, the team's top selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, entered Saturday carrying a .336 season batting average. He now has four homers in 37 games this season.
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.