CINCINNATI -- Four days after being hit three times in a game against Arizona, Matt Carpenter took another pitch off his body in the Cardinals' 4-2 loss to the Reds on Saturday.
The four hit-by-pitches have come in the span of 27 plate appearances. Previous to this stretch, Carpenter had been plunked only four times in the first 602 plate appearances of his big league career.
The sudden uptick can likely be explained by the recent change in the way Carpenter is being pitched. He has been seeing more inside fastballs, opponents' way of trying to combat the success Carpenter has had in taking outside pitches to the opposite field.
"That's the way, really, baseball always goes," Carpenter said. "It's cat-and-mouse. If you start hitting the ball the other way for a while, they'll come in. And then after coming in for a while, they'll go back away. It's just par for the course."
The change in game plan, however, has done little to slow Carpenter down. He enters Sunday riding a career-high 17-game hitting streak, the second-longest active streak in the Majors. He's reached base safely in 37 of the 40 games he has started as a leadoff hitter and leads the team with 25 multihit games.
Westbrook dominant in rehab appearance
CINCINNATI -- Shortly after wrapping up an efficient and effective rehab start with Class A Peoria on Sunday, Jake Westbrook said he expects to be back pitching in the Cardinals' rotation by the end of the week.
The seven-inning rehab appearance was Westbrook's second since taking time off in his recovery to let right elbow inflammation recede. He had pitched 3 2/3 innings in a Double-A outing on Tuesday.
"Sinker was great today," Westbrook said, speaking on the phone as he drove back to St. Louis. "I was able to locate it a lot better than I was the last start, which was encouraging. My other offspeed pitches were a lot better than they were last start as well. I felt strong in the sixth and seventh innings, which is where I want to be. And I felt like I could have kept going."
Westbrook retired the first 14 batters he faced on Sunday before a single and double drove home the Quad Cities' only run off the veteran right-hander. Fourteen of the 21 outs Westbrook recorded came on the ground. He struck out five, issued no walks and allowed four hits.
Because of all the quick outs he was getting early with his fastball, Westbrook took the opportunity to focus on executing offspeed pitches as the game progressed.
"What's very encouraging to me is that I can go out there and do what I've done with the workload I've had the last couple of starts and still feel strong at the end," Westbrook said. "That's a good sign."
Westbrook plans to meet the Cardinals in New York on Tuesday and will throw his next bullpen session at Citi Field under the watchful eyes of the coaching staff. The organization has not said what day Westbrook will come off the disabled list, nor have the Cardinals hinted at whose rotation spot Westbrook will take.
If he stays on a five-day rotation, Westbrook would be scheduled to pitch next on Friday in Miami. That is currently Tyler Lyons' night to pitch. Lyons would seemingly be the likely candidate to get bumped out of the rotation upon Westbrook's return.
Westbrook had a 2-1 record and 1.62 ERA in six starts before going on the disabled list May 9.
Cardinals' bullpen finally at full strength
CINCINNATI -- After playing the last 11 games with some sort of limitation attached to his bullpen, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny anticipated managing on Sunday night with all seven of his relievers actually available for use.
Having had three days off since throwing 80 pitches in a spot start, Joe Kelly was cleared for use in the series finale with the Reds.
"Yesterday he felt pretty good, and we fully anticipated that he would be ready to go today," Matheny said. "It would be nice to have a full slate down there again."
Indeed, it's been a while since Matheny has had such a luxury. The string of games with a shorthanded 'pen began on May 30, when the Cardinals were exposed late because of the unavailability of Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal. A rainout the next day forced the Cardinals to then play several games without turning to Kelly, as they needed him to fill in as a starter due to a doubleheader adding a complexity to the schedule.
During that stretch, the Cardinals have added and subtracted from the bullpen several times to ensure that there would be enough fresh arms. With Kelly now free to pitch again, the Cardinals have a defined long reliever ready to go to, if necessary.
Descalso gives Kozma a breather
CINCINNATI -- The Cardinals made one lineup change for Sunday's series finale against the Reds, subbing in Daniel Descalso for usual starting shortstop Pete Kozma.
The move, manager Mike Matheny explained pregame, was dictated largely by the growing realization that Kozma could likely benefit from having a few more off-days scattered into the schedule. Through Saturday, he had started 57 of the team's 62 games, a total that is tied with Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday for most on the team.
While that workload may not be overwhelming for a veteran player, it is an adjustment for one in the midst of his first full big league season. Kozma played in 157 games a year ago, though only 26 of those were at the Major League level, where the demands and the travel are more grueling.
Matheny, who sat Kozma on Thursday, believed Sunday presented an ideal day off given how well Descalso has fared against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo in the past. Descalso, who has now made six starts at short this season, entered the day 9-for-22 with four extra-base hits off the Cincinnati veteran.
Descalso, who batted .368 in May, is hitting .283 this season when in the starting lineup.
• In his return to the Triple-A lineup on Saturday, outfielder Oscar Taveras went 1-for-4 with a double while playing center field. Taveras, who missed nearly four weeks due to a high ankle sprain, did not play in Memphis' loss on Sunday.
• Chris Carpenter, who threw two sessions of live batting practice last week, will throw extended bullpen sessions at Busch Stadium while the team is on the road through next weekend. He is expected to resume throwing to hitters during the Cardinals' next homestand.
• Mitchell Boggs pitched four innings for Memphis on Saturday, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks. Boggs did not walk a batter in the 61-pitch appearance. It was Boggs' second Triple-A appearance since being demoted from St. Louis for the second time this season.
• Adam Wainwright will spend much of Monday's off-day in Bristol, Conn., where he will be at ESPN's headquarters to participate in several interviews for various ESPN programs. Carlos Beltran will be in Puerto Rico on the off-day to attend the first graduation ceremony at the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy.
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.