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LAD@STL: Kelly tosses seven innings of one-run ball

If the pattern holds for Cardinals starter Joe Kelly, he should be excellent in his outing against the Padres on Wednesday night.

Since he returned from a left hamstring injury that forced him to miss nearly three months, Kelly has had one outstanding start bookended by two subpar outings.

Kelly pitched seven strong innings against the Dodgers on July 19, giving up only one run on four hits. But in his other two starts, including his most recent outing, the results have not been there.

In a combined 7 2/3 innings in those two starts, Kelly has been roughed up for 15 hits and 11 runs. He has walked four batters while striking out seven.

But turning in a quality start isn't far-fetched against the light-hitting Padres, whom Kelly will face for the first time this season.

Entering Tuesday's game, the Padres were last in the Major Leagues in runs per game (3.08), batting average (.218) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.615).

But the runs may be at a premium for the Cardinals as well. They'll face rookie phenom Jesse Hahn for the first time.

Hahn has been dominant since he was recalled for his second Major League stint this season, going 6-1 in his last seven games with a 1.47 ERA. In that span, Hahn is averaging just over a strikeout per inning and opponents are hitting just .162 against him.

Hahn is freshly rested as well. The Padres gave him a two-week break between his last two starts, but the rookie looked as sharp as ever Friday, limiting the Braves to one run in six innings.

Padres: Infield solidifying
The injury-stricken infield is starting to take shape for the rest of the season.

Recently acquired Yangervis Solarte, whom the Padres received in the Chase Headley trade, homered Tuesday night and moved to third in the lineup after hitting second in his first six games with the Padres.

Solarte also moved to third base, where he spent the majority of his time with the Yankees, thanks to the return of Jedd Gyorko, who played his second Major League game in nearly two months on Tuesday.

Gyorko was activated from the disabled list Monday and has given the lineup a quick boost, going 3-for-7 in his first two games back. His RBI single on Tuesday gave the Padres a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning.

"We need him to hit. ... He's a good hitter," manager Bud Black said. "Where his average is now, do I think he's that kind of hitter? No. He's got a long ways to go to get to his lifetime average. He can play better."

Cardinals: Pierzynski making immediate impact 
Since signing with the club on Saturday, A.J. Pierzynski has started all three of his new team's games.

The Cardinals expected Pierzynski to help most on the offensive end -- the veteran backstop had a .254 average and .633 OPS in 72 games with the Red Sox this season -- but he has also picked up the slack behind the plate as well.

"I think he's done a nice job," manager Mike Matheny said. "He caught a 1-0 shutout in Wrigley [on Sunday] with the wind blowing out, so something was going right. He was catching one of the best pitchers in the game, and they mixed well, too. That's always nice to see.

"I thought the game before that that defensively he did a nice job. He's learning all these guys' idiosyncrasies. … It takes a little bit of time, but overall I think he's adjusting very well to just learning what the guys need. That's what a good catcher does, and that's what he's spent a lot of time doing." Comments