ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran did not start Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday.
The St. Louis Cardinals' right fielder suffered a strained left knee in the first inning of Game 3 on Wednesday as he tried to beat out a double-play grounder.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Beltran was available to pinch-hit, but was not able to play in the field. Beltran was not needed in St. Louis' 8-3 victory over San Francisco.
"Still bothering him to the point where we can't start him," Matheny said. "But he will be available as a pinch-hitter late in the game."
Beltran, 35, said he felt marginally better Thursday than he did when the injury occurred Wednesday.
"But it's still sore," said Beltran, who planned to further test the stability of the knee in the indoor batting cages before and during Game 4. "Hopefully, one more day will give me the chance to get a lot of treatment. Hopefully, I'll try to be out there tomorrow.
"Right now, my concern is just being able to play in the outfield. I believe hitting-wise, I took some swings before and it doesn't really bother me. But probably (Thursday) as a pinch-hitter, I can be available to do that."
Beltran was replaced in right field by Allen Craig, who yielded first base to rookie Matt Carpenter.
Matheny said Beltran's sore knee is a chronic issue, one that bothered him from time to time in the regular season.
"Just something he'll probably deal with as long as he plays," Matheny said. "But it wasn't one particular spot that seemed to be bothering him. It just kind of grabbed him yesterday."
Matheny said Beltran underwent an MRI on the knee following Game 3. The test revealed nothing new.
"He's a good evaluator of his health and what he can and can't do," Matheny said. "And I know right now, obviously, we have an urgency and he knows that as well as anybody. He's going to push it if he can. And he's going to try to get out there, if at all possible."
Beltran is batting .400 (12-for-30) in nine postseason games, with five doubles, three home runs and six RBIs. Beltran never has played beyond the NL Championship Series.
Barry Zito, who will oppose Lance Lynn in Game 5 on Friday, said the Cardinals remain formidable without Beltran in the lineup.
"It's definitely a positive (for us)," Zito said of Beltran possibly not being able to play Friday. "But we saw what Carpenter could do (Wednesday). I don't think it's a huge dropoff. All those guys over there are gamers and they're ready to go."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.