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6/25/2014 10:00 P.M. ET

Carpenter bumps All-Star stock with fundamental play

DENVER -- Matt Carpenter might not currently be swinging a flashy bat, but with all the little things he's doing right, he could make a late push in the National League's wide open All-Star voting race at third base.

Carpenter began the Cardinals' most recent series against the Rockies by reaching base three times despite never having a ball leave the infield. After finishing Monday with two walks and a hit-by-pitch, Carpenter logged a sacrifice fly both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Carpenter only had one hit in nine at-bats against the Rockies, but he made it count, driving in the go-ahead run in the Cardinals' 9-6 win with his eighth-inning double.

"It was nice to see him stick with the approach and get the big hit [Wednesday]," said manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny went on to praise Carpenter by adding he's passing the eye test despite his lack of flashy stats lately.

Matheny pointed to Tuesday's 10-5 loss when Rockies right fielder Brandon Barnes robbed Carpenter of a surefire double with a diving catch that he called "probably the best play we've seen this season." Matheny also admired the way Carpenter was able to advance Marco Gonzales from second to third Wednesday with a ball that "almost [took] the second baseman's glove off."

"He's making good contact and he's taking good at-bats," Matheny said.

As of Monday's voting update, Carpenter was in fourth place in the third base race with 1,049,472 votes. The Brewers' Aramis Ramirez leads the way with 1,279,902.

Upon completion of Wednesday's game, Carpenter's 13 walks in the month of June ranked as the fourth most in the National League, and he's only struck out nine times since the calendar flipped. If you're a fan of fundamental table-setting, you could do worse than vote for Carpenter.

Kozma designated for assignment; Gonzales called up

DENVER -- Though shortstop Pete Kozma was already displaced after St. Louis' signing of Jhonny Peralta, the Cardinals had no intentions of shuffling him off the roster this time. But after burning through five relievers in their nine-man bullpen Tuesday, they were left with no choice.

Kozma was designated for assignment Wednesday to make room for left-hander Marco Gonzales on the 25-man roster. Kozma has already cleared waivers and will be optioned to Triple-A Memphis.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was forced to have a "very long" conversation with Kozma after right-hander Shelby Miller departed just 2 2/3 innings into Tuesday's start against the Rockies with "mid-back spasms."

"It wasn't our intention when we brought [Kozma] in to watch him leave so quick," said Matheny, who is now back to a four-man bench. "But every arm we have, we need right now."

With No. 4 prospect Gonzales being called up from Double-A Springfield to make his Major League debut Wednesday against the Rockies, the Cardinals also transferred right-hander Joe Kelly (left hamstring strain) to the 60-day disabled list.

The move involving Kelly is purely procedural to make room on the 40-man roster for Gonzales. Kelly has already been on the DL since April 17, more than 60 days, and he will begin a rehab assignment Friday.

Kozma was called up Monday to take one of the two roster spots vacated by right-hander Michael Wacha (right shoulder stress fracture) and left-hander Jaime Garcia (left shoulder soreness). The Cardinals had previously been playing with a four-man bench over the last week, but Kozma didn't make an appearance through the first two games of the series against the Rockies.

Kozma was St. Louis' starting shortstop in 2013, and he batted .217 with 44 runs scored in 410 at-bats. His best run came towards the end of the '12, when he hit .343 with 11 runs and 14 RBIs during September and October to close out the regular season.

Kozma was originally optioned to Triple-A Memphis on April 15 with one hit in three at-bats off the bench during the season.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.