ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran was out of the starting lineup on Thursday, battling what manager Mike Matheny called a stomach virus.

Matheny said Beltran made a trip to the emergency room on Wednesday night after returning home from St. Louis' 1-0 win over the White Sox. Matheny didn't think Beltran spent the night in the hospital, but Beltran made the trip because his condition had worsened as the night went on.

Beltran was almost scratched from the lineup just minutes before Wednesday's game. He was not feeling well but had asked Matheny to wait until game time to see whether he felt any better. Beltran was ultimately a catalyst in the game he almost missed, driving in the only run of the contest with his 19th homer of the year and making a difficult diving catch in right field in the sixth inning.

Matheny said Beltran battling through the virus to help his team win was a great lesson for some of the Cardinals' younger players.

"I made my way down the bench after [Beltran] made that catch and he'd already given us the one-run lead," Matheny said. "I said, 'I want you guys to realize that this guy was so sick we could hardly get him off the table. He begged me to wait an hour to see if he'd feel better and said that he had to play. I love that, and to see them shaking their heads a bit, because that's just a great message."

Matheny said Beltran was still feeling weak on Thursday but could possibly be available to pinch-hit. Matheny added that Beltran's virus is likely contagious, but he didn't consider it necessary to keep Beltran away from his teammates.

"That's just part of the gig," Matheny said. "We're somewhat of a family here, too. You just kind of go through those things."

Matheny trying to find breather for Furcal

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said on Wednesday that he was looking to give shortstop Rafael Furcal a day or two off soon. As of Thursday, with Furcal leading off against the White Sox, Matheny is still searching for when that day will be for Furcal.

"That's a great question, and I don't have a great answer," Matheny said. "I'm looking, just keep talking to him. And I know that he just wants to get it fixed. He showed his value last night even though he's 0-for-whatever. The defensive play that he's had has been consistent."

White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza led off the ninth inning on Wednesday night with a sharply hit ground ball up the middle that took a difficult hop past Furcal. De Aza moved up to second on a sac bunt, and a play later, Furcal made a fully extended diving stop behind second base on a Dayan Viciedo single.

De Aza would have scored easily from second, and Furcal's diving effort to keep the ball in the infield kept St. Louis' one-run lead intact in what would end up a 1-0 Cardinals victory.

Furcal is in the midst of an 0-for-19 skid over his last five games. His average is down to .294, the second lowest it's been all year as Furcal has spent all but three days hitting above .300 this season. He hit .315 in April and .349 in May, while cooling down for a .140 clip in June.

"I still like him at the top of the lineup," Matheny said. "He's gonna figure it out. It's just a matter of time, and I think a little bit of rest will probably help."

Berkman's brief visit pays dividends

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are not only missing Lance Berkman's bat in their lineup these days, but his presence in the clubhouse, as well.

"It's a different atmosphere only by volume alone," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny joked on Thursday.

Matheny said the team is hoping to get Berkman back in the clubhouse soon, and is entertaining the idea of getting Berkman back for the start of the next homestand beginning on June 29.

Berkman had surgery on May 25 in Houston to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, and has remained there while recovering. The Cardinals hope he will be available to play again by late July.

Berkman was able to join the team during its three-game series in Houston from June 5-7. Matheny said Berkman's presence was felt immediately during that brief period with the club.

"You can see when we got to Houston, he's just chirping and barking and yelling at people the whole time. That's just who he is," Matheny said. "That's just part of the magic he brings to a team. We miss that, and you can't fabricate that either. It's either who you are or not."

Worth noting

• Skip Schumaker and Matt Carpenter will play in a rehab game with Triple-A Memphis on Thursday night. Schumaker played five innings with Memphis on Wednesday while testing out a strained right hamstring, and Carpenter will see his first live action since straining his right oblique on May 23.

Matheny said Schumaker will likely play seven innings, rest a day, and then play a full game with Memphis. Carpenter will play some at first, third and the corner outfield positions.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Thursday that Schumaker and Carpenter are expected to rejoin the Cardinals for their next road trip beginning on Tuesday, if all goes well.

• Matheny caught Giants right-hander Matt Cain's Major League debut on Aug. 29, 2005. Matheny helped Cain through five innings of three-hit ball in a hard-fought, 2-1 loss against Colorado that day.

Matheny watched the highlights of Cain's perfect game on Wednesday night against the Astros -- the 22nd in Major League history and first ever for the Giants -- and on Thursday reflected on Cain's progression throughout his career.

"I've been a big fan of Matt Cain, not just as a pitcher but the young player he was coming up doing everything right like we've seen some of the guys in this clubhouse, stick their nose down, seen not heard," Matheny said. "When they were heard it was asking questions, respecting the game, respecting the guys who have been around a while. He did everything right, and you could just see when he got on the mound he carried himself like a veteran."

• Daniel Descalso made his fourth appearance of the season in the two-hole on Thursday. Descalso, who's hitting .224 this season, is 3-for-14 with a homer when hitting second this year.