ST. LOUIS -- David Freese was back in the Cardinals' lineup Thursday, still looking for anything to spark some offensive momentum.
Freese, who hit 20 home runs last year, remains homerless 88 at-bats into his season entering Thursday's finale against the Mets. He has only three extra-base hits and four RBIs. A career .290 hitter, Freese is batting .216.
There was a brief hint of optimism that Freese was beginning to find his way when, after being pulled from the lineup for two straight games beginning April 30, he returned with three consecutive multi-hit games. Since then, however, Freese has just five hits in 28 at-bats. All five have been singles.
"It's just timing and confidence right now," manager Mike Matheny said. "And there's a feel part of it that you can't really define really well. But when you've got it, you've got it. And when you don't, it's like chasing a ghost. That's where David is right now."
Cardinals want Miller more aware of run game
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals took the Mets' run-at-will approach against Shelby Miller on Wednesday as an opportunity to rekindle conversations with the rookie right-hander about how he can better stall the running game behind him.
Three of the six baserunners that Miller allowed in 5 2/3 innings took off after reaching. Two of them were successful in their attempts, with David Wright swiping second in the first inning, and Daniel Murphy taking third in the sixth. In Miller's eight starts this season, seven of eight stolen-base attempts were successful.
Though Miller's season numbers leave plenty of room for improvement, manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday's game marked the first time in which he saw legitimate reason for concern. Using a stopwatch to determine Miller's delivery time, the Cardinals found that he was routinely too slow to the plate.
Miller had been delivering pitches with runners on base in about 1-1.3 seconds, but was too often close to 1.5 seconds on Wednesday. That leaves even the league's top-throwing catchers at a disadvantage when trying to throw out runners.
"It was something I wasn't paying too much attention to, which was a mental mistake," Miller said. "I'll get that taken care of. That's my mistake. I should be better about that."
Matheny suggested that fixing the issue will likely take little more than just better awareness. Miller has the ability to be plenty quick to the plate, and his ability to change how long he holds the ball before starting his delivery is something that the right-hander can use to keep baserunners from getting a good read on his motion.
"It kind of got away from him yesterday, so back to the drawing board with giving the lesson to get back a little more toward where he was at the beginning," Matheny said. "There are some guys that can't do what he does as far as varying their holds, varying their times. Sometimes it takes a cheap run where you do get lazy for a minute ... to be a pivot for him."
"We work on that all the time, varying holds," added Miller. "We'll hold for four seconds in the bullpen or hold for a second. It's something that we work on. I'll be honest, I didn't think they'd be running like they were. That's my fault, and I wasn't paying attention."
• The Cardinals' June 9 game in Cincinnati has been selected as ESPN's Sunday Night Game of the Week. That pushes the start time back to 7 p.m. CT. The Cardinals already played a Sunday night game against the Phillies last month and have another one scheduled against the Cubs on July 14.
• After starting 37 of the Cardinals' first 39 games, Matt Holliday was out of the starting lineup Thursday. That allowed Ty Wigginton -- previously 4-for-10 with five walks against Jon Niese -- the opportunity to start against the Mets lefty. The right-handed hitting Shane Robinson also started in center in place of Jon Jay.
• The Brewers are coming to St. Louis for the second time this season and will send the following starters to the mound during the upcoming three game set: Wily Peralta (3-3, 5.40 ERA) on Friday, Marco Estrada (3-2, 5.32 ERA) on Saturday and Kyle Lohse (1-4, 3.49 ERA) on Sunday.
• The Cardinals' 26 wins are the most through 39 games in franchise history since the 1941 Cardinals began the year 30-9.
• According to Elias Sports Bureau, Seth Maness became the first Cardinal pitcher since 1900 to earn three relief wins in his first five career appearances with his win Wednesday. Maness, who was called up from Triple-A on April 29, has all three of the bullpen's victories this season.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.