CLE@TEX: Kottaras crushes a solo homer to right field

MILWAUKEE -- Veteran catcher George Kottaras is getting a crash course on the Cardinals pitching staff.

"He's already had some lessons today. We've been able to talk to him about the signs. Getting to know our staff is going to be the largest hurdle," manager Mike Matheny said prior to Saturday afternoon's game against the Brewers in Milwaukee. "He's going to spend most of the game down in the bullpen getting used to the guys. He already has an idea about the game plan and being around [the Major Leagues] for a little while gives you an advantage."

Matheny also expects to use Kottaras as a left-handed power bat off the bench, but only in specific situations because of his primary value as a backup catcher.

"We have to be careful going too soon to that, knowing that he does give us a good chance to jump in there," Matheny said. "He's a guy with some power, but we also realize he's our safety valve catching-wise. We are going to have to be careful and choose our spots wisely."

The left-handed-hitting Kottaras, 31, has a .216 career average in 305 games with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs. Prior to being designated for assignment on Monday, he was hitting .286 with three home runs in 10 games with the Cleveland Indians. He also has been effective as a pinch-hitter with 10 hits in 46 at-bats, including 6-for-22 with the Brewers in 2012.

Matheny knows Cruz can deliver on defense

STL@TOR: Descalso throws out Pillar at the plate

MILWAUKEE -- With Yadier Molina out for an extended period after injuring his right thumb, it may be tempting for teams to run on his replacement Tony Cruz. That doesn't worry manager Mike Matheny.

"I'm not that concerned because I know how good of a thrower Tony is," Matheny said.

The Brewers executed a double steal in the first inning of Friday night's game with Cruz behind the plate. Matheny said it had more to do with pitcher Joe Kelly's struggles on the mound than Cruz's ability to throw out runners.

"He had no chance. Joe was trying to fix what he needed on the mound, so the running game wasn't that much of a concern at that point. But when you give Tony Cruz a chance to throw somebody out, he's going to throw them out," he said.

Molina had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb he sustained on a feet-first slide into third base in the second inning of the Cardinals' 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Matheny hopes big comeback can produce momentum

Must C Clutch: Holliday caps comeback with homer

MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals staged their biggest comeback since Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series by rallying from a 6-0 deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.

Manager Mike Matheny thinks the carryover effect from the win could benefit the team for the rest of the season.

"I never discredit what momentum can do. I've seen it on the negative side, so it's only natural to think that it could happen on the positive side," Matheny said. "We had this quite a bit last season where'd we have some great comebacks and get right to the edge and not take that win. Those can become disheartening to a club. To see our guys fight and to come back and finish it off, that really keeps a team in games for a long period of time. Even subconsciously they will remember that we were down six."

The Cardinals hit a season-high four homers in Friday night's dramatic victory and now have won three of their past five games with the winning runs coming as a result of home runs, including a pair of walk-offs.

Worth noting

• Manager Mike Matheny said he was deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Brewers shortstop Jean Segura's nine-month-old son, Janniel, in the Dominican Republic on Friday.

"I can't even fathom that," Matheny said. "We hurt for him, for sure."

• To make room for George Kottaras on the 25-man active roster, the Cardinals optioned catcher Audry Perez to Triple-A Memphis.