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6/28/2013 10:32 P.M. ET

Kelly to bolster bullpen until fifth starter needed

OAKLAND -- Though Joe Kelly remains in line to assume a spot in the rotation next month, he will remain an available option out of Mike Matheny's bullpen for the Cardinals' series against the A's.

Because of the concentration of off-days during this stretch, the Cardinals do not need a fifth starter until July 6. That frees Kelly up to continue pitching in relief until the week of that start. With Kelly's inclusion in the bullpen, the Cardinals will play this series with an eight-man bullpen.

Kelly threw 77 pitches in a five-inning relief appearance on June 21, and he will sustain the arm strength that he has built up by throwing an extended bullpen session closer to his start date.

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.