ARI@STL: Adams launches two-run shot to center

ST LOUIS -- Matt Adams was held out of the St. Louis lineup for a second straight day Thursday with tightness in his left calf.

Adams was out of the lineup Wednesday for what Cardinals manager Mike Matheny described as being cautious. He gave the first baseman another night of rest as the Cardinals started a four-game series with the Giants at Busch Stadium.

"We took a closer look at him," Matheny said. "We're confident that they didn't see anything major there, but enough so that we've got to be cautious."

Matheny said the team would keep a close eye on Adams and determine if he was available to pinch-hit in the series opener. Adams pinch-hit and struck out in the ninth inning Wednesday.

The first baseman has appeared in 52 of 53 games for the Cardinals this season, hitting .325 with 21 multihit games. His batting average ranks him fifth in the National League.

Allen Craig was at first for the second consecutive night with Adams out of the lineup, and Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay both got starts in the outfield.

Matheny said the injury currently isn't serious enough to warrant Adams being placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Cards want Miller to improve in preventing steals

STL@MIL: Molina fires to second, nails Lucroy

ST LOUIS -- There is a common trend among the steals that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has surrendered this season.

While the All-Star catcher has allowed only 13 runners to swipe a base on him, leading to a league-best caught-stealing percentage, those steals have commonly come with starter Shelby Miller on the mound.

That trend continued in Wednesday's series finale as Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole two bases.

"I thought I mixed up the [delivery] times [to the plate] with him a little bit," Miller said. "I don't know how good jumps he was getting on me, but obviously, it was pretty good."

Both of Ellsbury's steals came in run-filled innings as he stole second in the four-run third and then did the same in the three-run fourth. Miller struggled to hold Ellsbury close in both frames.

"They just made an aggressive jump and timed it up perfect. And it was a slower move to the plate," manager Mike Matheny said. "Sometimes that is the natural reaction when you start giving up a lot of runs -- your mind is on, 'I have to make good pitches here because I'm getting beat.' That's just something that can't happen on all of our parts."

Allowing baserunners to advance was an issue for Miller last season, too. The right-hander allowed eight steals in his first 10 starts a season ago. He has now allowed seven steals through 11 games this season, allowing two in three different outings, including each of his last two starts.

That was one of many things on his mind following Wednesday's 7-4 loss.

"There is a lot of improvement for a lot of places right now," Miller said after allowing a career-high seven runs. "You don't want them taking bags like that. Just all around, a bad game for me. I just didn't have it."

While Miller struggled to hold baserunners in the first two months last season, a conscious effort to improve in the area paid dividends. Miller allowed only one steal over his final 21 starts of the season, going 20 straight outings without a steal before allowing one in his final start.

Matheny would like to see that happen again in Miller's coming starts.

"You have to be conscious of it and you have to continue to work on it," Matheny said. "Pitchers can fall into a rut where it's the same routine. I don't care how good you are at the pickoff move, if you're doing the same amount of hold before you go to the plate, they're going to take advantage every time."

Cooney falls one out shy of Triple-A no-hitter

Top Prospects: Tim Cooney, LHP, Cardinals

Nothing but zeros lit up the scoreboard with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night for Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs had no runs and no hits. Memphis left-hander Tim Cooney had held them to just one baserunner, courtesy of a one-out walk in the fifth.

But -- one out away from making history -- Cooney issued another walk, bringing second baseman Arismendy Alcantara to the plate. The Cubs' No. 6 prospect made him pay, jumping on the first pitch to pull a ground ball through the left side of the infield for a hit.

Though the no-hit bid was over, Cooney quickly recovered. He struck out Cubs No. 1 prospect Javier Baez, completing a one-hit shutout and securing a 4-0 victory for Memphis.

Cooney, the Cardinals' No. 9 prospect, struck out seven batters and walked two. He threw 101 pitches and went 1-for-3 at the plate.

With the victory, Cooney improved to 4-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts this season. He has struck out 50 batters and walked 24 in 66 innings.

Memphis quickly gave Cooney the lead Thursday. Center fielder Randal Grichuck, the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect, hit a solo home run in the first inning, his 10th of the season. The Redbirds tacked on another run in the fourth and two more in the sixth.

It was more support than Cooney would need as he came one out away from becoming the first Redbird to throw a no-hitter. Instead, he settled for the eighth one-hitter in franchise history.

Worth noting

• The Giants arrived at Busch Stadium on Thursday winners of six of their last seven games with the best record in the Majors.

"They've had some consistency. They're one of the best teams in baseball right now. Pitching, good amount of power, consistent offense, pretty impressive group of relievers," Matheny said. "So they've got the whole package working right now."

• If the statistics hold up, the Cardinals and Giants could be in for a low-scoring four-game series at Busch Stadium. The Giants (3.03) ranked second in the National League in ERA entering Thursday's series opener, with the Cardinals (3.25) third.

• With a single in the first inning Thursday, third baseman Matt Carpenter moved his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest active streak in the NL.