STL@MIL: Kelly exits the game with an injury

ST. LOUIS -- On April 16, just three weeks after learning that he had been named the team's fifth starter, Joe Kelly saw his season come to a halt when he strained his left hamstring sprinting down the first-base line at Miller Park. Now he's poised to head back to the Brewers' home ballpark ready to announce his return.

Kelly rejoined the Cardinals on Wednesday and made it official that he will come off the disabled list on Friday to start the series opener in Milwaukee. It will be his first start since that day in April, not counting the three rehab outings he completed with Triple-A Memphis.

"It's definitely a good day to come back," Kelly said. "I want to go back and pitch well there. It's exciting. I haven't played Major League Baseball in two and a half months. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm definitely excited."

Kelly threw a bullpen session with Memphis on Tuesday, the final hurdle before he could be cleared to make a start in the Majors. He threw 72 pitches in his final rehab start, on Sunday, which means he'll likely be limited to about 90 in his return.

Kelly admitted that he gave everything he had to get through those 72 pitches. The quality of his pitches, though, improved each time out.

"The first [rehab start], I didn't know where the ball was going," he said. "It was different being out there again. I would say it felt similar to throwing my bullpen [session] right before Spring Training. I quickly got better, started locating with my fastball a little better, throwing my offspeed over the plate for a strike. I think every time I went out there, I got better and stronger."

With the All-Star break on the horizon, the Cardinals will be able to give Kelly extra days to recover before his turn in the rotation comes around again.

Rehab assignment next for pain-free Siegrist

STL@CHC: Siegrist fans the side to preserve tie game

ST. LOUIS -- Kevin Siegrist threw his third pain-free bullpen session at Busch Stadium on Wednesday and said afterward that he expects to join the Double-A Springfield club later this week to begin his rehab assignment.

Siegrist has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 24, first with a strained left forearm, most recently because of tightness in his left shoulder. The latter has been alleviated, and he was encouraged on Wednesday by how strong he felt while throwing at max effort.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm ready. This has been no fun."

By beginning his rehab stint this week, Siegrist will be able to appear in Minor League games while the big league team has four days off for the All-Star break. Manager Mike Matheny wouldn't commit to getting Siegrist back at the start of the second half, but if all goes well, Siegrist should be ready not too long after.

"I imagine we'll need to see him -- [because] he's been out for a while -- go multiple innings, probably [make] back-to-back [appearances]," Matheny said. "We're going in with the idea that we need to make sure he's covered everything he needs to cover."

Worth noting

• The Cardinals announced plans for two more theme nights this season -- Y98 Night at the Ballpark (Aug. 14) and Billikens Night (Sept. 18). Fans purchasing a ticket for one of these games will receive a giveaway. For more information on these and other theme nights, visit cardinals.com/theme.

Allen Craig returned to the lineup on Wednesday but reached a new low in it. Matheny made Craig, who opened the season hitting cleanup, seven-hole hitter against the Pirates. It's the first time this season that Craig -- 1-for-11 on this homestand -- has started that far down in the order.

• Double-A outfielder James Ramsey was activated from the DL on Wednesday, an indication that he will be able to play in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. In 51 games with Springfield this season, Ramsey has hit .307/.389/.550 with 22 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs.

• Triple-A Memphis lost to Nashville on Tuesday night, but Memphis starter John Gast retired all 17 batters he faced. Gast threw 44 of his 61 pitches for strikes and had to be removed earlier than desired due to a rain delay.