ST. LOUIS -- For the moment, there appears to be a little stability at the back end of the Cardinals' bullpen. Such calm has been tenuous this season, though, so nothing is a guarantee.

Fernando Salas seems to be the primary option to record saves, with Mitchell Boggs evidently the No. 2 choice. Manager Tony La Russa prefers not to designate a closer at this time, however.

"It just depends on who's coming up in the seventh, eighth and ninth, and whether you've got favorable matchups one way or another," La Russa said. "Because we've got different type pitchers out there."

Meanwhile, Eduardo Sanchez has turned in two excellent outings since being removed from closing duties, needing a total of 17 pitches to get six outs. Sanchez had issued at least one walk in seven consecutive games before his shutout inning against Philadelphia on Monday.

Holliday closer than Berkman to rejoining lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals held both Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman out of their starting lineup on Thursday against the Astros, though Holliday was considered available to pinch-hit. Both outfielders were removed from Wednesday night's game due to injuries.

Holliday has some tightness in his left quadriceps and believes he will be able to play in Friday's game in Kansas City. Berkman will likely be out at least a few days due to a sprained right wrist.

"I haven't run yet, but I think we're good," Holliday said on Thursday afternoon.

It's possible that Holliday will be used as the Cards' designated hitter on Friday, their first game of Interleague Play for the 2011 season. Berkman is not likely to play for longer than that, though he is not headed for the disabled list.

"It's not torn," Berkman said. "It's not broken. It's like spraining your ankle -- as soon as it feels better to run, you can run. It's going to be the same thing."

Holliday was removed from Wednesday's game in the third inning after feeling discomfort running out a ball in the second. Berkman came out two innings later, the result of an awkward tumble when he caught a line drive.

In a bit of good news for the Redbirds, though, center fielder Colby Rasmus returned to the lineup from injury on Thursday. Rasmus had not started since Saturday, the result of an abdominal strain. He went 1-for-3 and scored a run in the 4-2 victory.

Allen Craig started in left field, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer, and Jon Jay in right for St. Louis. Jay went 0-for-4 and made a sliding catch in the seventh on a drive by Brett Wallace.

Tallet returns Friday; Hamilton optioned

ST. LOUIS -- Brian Tallet is coming back sooner than expected. The Cardinals will activate the left-handed reliever from the disabled list on Friday, optioning first baseman/outfielder Mark Hamilton to Triple-A Memphis to make room on the roster for him. A club official confirmed the move shortly before the Cardinals left for Kansas City on Thursday afternoon.

Tallet has been out since April 13 due to a broken bone in his right hand. He made one Minor League rehabilitation start, on Tuesday at Class A Quad Cities, and was expected to make another on Friday night. Instead, the Cardinals are going to activate him. Tallet struck out five of the six batters he faced in the game against Peoria on Tuesday.

With the move, the Cardinals will have 13 pitchers for the first time this year. Sending out Hamilton avoids what would have been a very difficult decision in the Cardinals' bullpen. The two pitchers most recently called up, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez, have been two of the club's best relievers, and in fact Salas is the de facto closer for the time being.

Sending out Hamilton would also seem to be some sort of vote of confidence in both Matt Holliday, and to a lesser extent Lance Berkman. The two outfielders both missed Thursday's game due to injuries. Holliday said afterward, though, that he expects to play Friday. Berkman is likely out for a few days. If the Cardinals believed they would be going without both veterans for any extended period of time, they likely would not have moved to 12 position players.

Baby Birds

Triple-A Memphis had a scheduled off-day on Wednesday.

Maikel Cleto went six innings, allowing three unearned runs and striking out six as Double-A Springfield lost to Arkansas, 3-0.

Jarred Bogany went 2-for-4 with a RBI for Class A Palm Beach in a 5-1 loss to Daytona. Joe Kelly allowed one earned run in seven innings, but fell to 1-2 on the year.

Chris Edmondson and Jonathan Rodriguez homered in consecutive innings for Class A Quad Cities as the River Bandits held off Peoria, 3-2. Edmondson went 3-for-4 and displayed a strong arm in left field, throwing a runner out at home.

-- Austin Laymance

Tidbits

• Pete Kozma's double on Wednesday made him the first Cardinal to record an extra-base hit in his first Major League at-bat since Mark Worrell on June 5, 2008.

• Ryan Franklin warmed in the bullpen on Wednesday night, but not to come into the game. He was simply throwing a bullpen session to get some work.

• Manager Tony La Russa said Thursday that he feels "a little bit better every day" as he recuperates from shingles.