Lance Berkman leaves game with serious-looking knee injury

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The Cardinals are suddenly taking punches.

First baseman Lance Berkman had to be helped off the field Saturday night at Dodger Stadium after losing his balance while stretching for a throw from shortstop Rafael Furcal. It appeared that his right knee buckled under him, and he was clearly in pain as he carefully made his way into the dugout aided by trainer Chris Conroy and manager Mike Matheny.

Berkman has undergone four different knee procedures — two to each knee — in his major league career, but he wasn’t able to make a quick diagnosis of this particular injury. It felt different than the kind of issues he’s dealt with in the past.

“It doesn’t feel right,” Berkman told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. “I wish I knew more than that. … I didn’t feel a pop. [The joint] just kind of slid on me a little bit. That’s the best way I can describe it.”

The Cardinals are concerned enough about his status that they removed first base prospect Matt Adams in the fifth inning of Triple-A Memphis’ game (and presumably told him to get on the next flight to Los Angeles). Adams, a promising 23-year-old, was batting .340/.375/.603 with nine home runs in 37 games this year at the Triple-A level. He slugged 32 home runs in 115 games last season at Double-A Springfield.

St. Louis has lost three straight games. Sunday’s series finale with the Dodgers will be broadcast on ESPN.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.