Cards alter rotation thanks to Monday’s day off

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals have altered their rotation, taking advantage of a day off Monday to start ace Chris Carpenter on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series with the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

Kyle Lohse, who’ll get two extra days off before pitching Friday amid lingering concerns about the middle finger on his pitching hand, told reporters he was fine. He said he wasn’t getting treatment for the finger, but added he wasn’t seeking to tell his side of the story.

“I’m ready to pitch whenever they want me to pitch, for however long they want me to pitch and in whatever role they want me to pitch,” Lohse said before Tuesday night’s game. “I don’t know what else to say.”

Carpenter has won six of seven decisions since a 1-7 start and will be on regular rest Thursday when he opposes Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo.

Jake Westbrook also is moving ahead of Lohse in the rotation and will pitch tonight against Randy Wolf. Lohse is slotted to go Friday against the Rockies.

Lohse is 9-7 with a 3.45 ERA but worked a season-low three innings in his last outing Aug. 4 at Florida, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks. Late last month, the Cardinals ordered him to return to St. Louis to have the inflammation on his hand examined, with tests revealing no serious damage.

Manager Tony La Russa said Lohse has repeatedly told him the finger is fine but added, “I don’t think it would be a bad time to give him an extra few days.”

Lohse has won only one of his last six starts while averaging just over five innings per outing and has thrown no more than 74 pitches in any of his last three appearances.

“If he’s taking me out of there because he’s not comfortable with letting me go, all I can do is pitch when they say,” Lohse said. “I’m not going to sit here and argue with him.

“I’m not trying to start anything here.”

La Russa said utilityman Allen Craig likely would be activated today after passing a final pre-game test. Craig is batting .336 but has been out since June 8 with a fractured right kneecap.

Corey Patterson started ahead of Jon Jay in center field. La Russa said Jay, who was 3-for-20 on a seven-game trip, probably wouldn’t start until Thursday.

Catcher Yadier Molina served the final game of a five-game suspension stemming from a spittle-laced argument with plate umpire Rob Drake after getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes Aug. 3 at Milwaukee.

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