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STL@LAD: Beckett tosses seven scoreless vs. Cardinals

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has called every five days a "battle" for Josh Beckett. The 34-year-old right-hander has dealt with soreness -- particularly in his left hip -- in between starts.

Beckett has brushed it off, saying every player deals with some sort of soreness, but Mattingly has said Beckett is the starter on his staff whom he worries about most.

Soreness or not, Beckett struggled in his last start against the Indians, allowing five runs in five innings. He didn't make excuses for the performance, saying he simply wasn't able to execute.

Beckett is scheduled to start Sunday against left-hander Yohan Flande of the Rockies, who will be looking to split the four-game series at Coors Field. Flande is 0-1 with 6.10 ERA in two starts this year.

The start against the Indians was a rare blemish for Beckett, who has been on a roll since his May 25 no-hitter against Philadelphia, posting a 1.90 ERA in eight starts.

Backup catcher Drew Butera has caught all eight of those starts. He's been Beckett's personal catcher -- a role he also filled for Carl Pavano in 2010 while with the Twins as a rookie. Butera has seen the effort Beckett has put forth to be physically ready.

"When he was early in his career, he could throw 97 by anybody. Now it's, 'OK, a little more pitching, back and forth, utilize the split changeup,'" Butera said. "He's given a lot of credit to A.J. [Ellis] for showing him what makes him good, using the curveball more. That pitch allows him to sneak a fastball that's now 93 and 94 by guys.

"Everybody is battling aches and pains. I think what I can do to help him is communicate and sense when the pace of the game needs to be slowed down a bit. But he knows himself so well, I'm just there to assist him if I can."

One factor that could work in Beckett's favor Sunday: The Rockies may be without shortstop and leading hitter Troy Tulowitzki for the third straight game due to right groin soreness. Manager Walt Weiss said there's a 50-50 chance Tulowitzki will play.

"What he's feeling right now is legitimate enough that he wasn't going to be able to play through it regardless," Weiss said. "He's pretty in tune with his body and some of the history he's had. I try to be in tune with it also. It's worked well as far as trying to keep him fresh and staying out in front of some of these things. But he's pretty tight and sore so he could use a couple of days."

Rockies: CarGo making progress
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez could return to the lineup before the All-Star break.

Gonzalez, who underwent finger surgery June 10, faced live pitching Saturday for the first time since the surgery. He took swings in a 35-pitch session by rehabbing teammate Eddie Butler.

"I was really scared at the beginning because I didn't want to hit one ball off the end and get jammed and have that feeling that I was having before surgery," said Gonzalez, who was able to grip the bat better than he expected. "That's when [my finger] used to hurt really bad, but it felt really good. There was no pain."

Gonzalez will have another batting practice session Sunday, then will begin a rehab assignment, barring any setbacks.

"I've just got to get my timing back, and I'm sure that will take only a few at-bats," Gonzalez said. "So hopefully I'll go down to the Minor Leagues and get a couple at-bats then come back here."

Dodgers: Crawford begins rehab assignment
Left fielder Carl Crawford has begun a rehab assignment, scheduled to play six innings Saturday night at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Crawford hasn't played since spraining his left ankle May 27. Outfielder Matt Kemp moved from center to left field in Crawford's absence, with Andre Ethier in center field and Yasiel Puig in right. Mattingly said he isn't worried about any outfield disruption when Crawford returns.

"We'll deal with it when he gets here," said Mattingly. "We're playing good and I don't expect too many changes messing with it."

But that doesn't mean Crawford won't play.

"You never know what happens in five or six days," Mattingly said. "Things tend to work themselves out."

Worth noting
• Mattingly rested right-handed-hitting Scott Van Slyke on Saturday despite Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa making the start. Mattingly said expects Van Slyke to be in the lineup Sunday.

• Eddie Butler, who is dealing with right rotator cuff inflammation, said he felt good after his 35-pitch session against Gonzalez.

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