ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter remains on track to throw four simulated innings on Monday. The right-hander threw his scheduled side session in the Busch Stadium bullpen early Friday afternoon without incident.

Carpenter's mound session on Friday was his first since throwing approximately 50 pitches during three simulated innings on Tuesday. The right-hander, who is intent on pitching before the end of the season, has not had a setback since resuming a throwing program in mid-August.

Assuming his arm continues to respond well, Carpenter will likely throw between 60-70 pitches in Monday's simulated game. That will be the first of two simulated games Carpenter is scheduled to throw during the team's upcoming seven-game road trip.

The Cardinals have been wary of publicizing Carpenter's timeline with too many specifics because of the number of setbacks Carpenter has already endured this season. He was shut down from throwing during Spring Training and then again in June. That second setback led to Carpenter's decision to undergo thoracic outlet surgery in mid-July.

"I've been bullish about not throwing expectations on him," manager Mike Matheny said. "To say he's got to be here or there ... I don't think it's fair to him."

As it is, though, it's still not out of the realm of possibilities that Carpenter could make as many as three regular-season starts for St. Louis.

With Furcal out, Descalso gets work at shortstop

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' carousel of potential shortstops doesn't appear as if it will rotate all that much now that Rafael Furcal is sidelined for the rest of the regular season. Since Furcal suffered a right elbow injury, Daniel Descalso continues to get the bulk of the starts.

In the lineup again on Friday, Descalso has been manager Mike Matheny's shortstop choice in five of the seven games since Furcal went down. The other two starts went to Pete Kozma, whose defensive ability has him ahead of Ryan Jackson on the depth chart.

Defense, manager Mike Matheny said, will continue to be prioritized in Furcal's absence.

"Danny has done a real nice job making plays," manager Mike Matheny said. "Raffy was doing a great job for us all the way around. We just have to make adjustments with what we have."

Jackson is unlikely to get many -- if any -- starts, though he'll remain on the roster through the end of the season. Matheny was quick to clarify that any lack of playing time for Jackson should not be taken to mean that the middle infielder has fallen out of favor with the organization. Rather, it's more a reflection on the steadiness Descalso provides and the improvements Kozma has made.

With Descalso expected to make regular starts at shortstop this month, that also somewhat settles the second base debate. Matheny has fluctuated between using Skip Schumaker or Descalso at second all year, though those starts will now go to Schumaker, who, while not as strong defensively as Descalso, enters Friday batting .352 with runners in scoring position this year.

Kozma and Jackson can also step in at second, if needed, and don't rule out Matt Carpenter as an option there either. Though not a natural middle infielder, Carpenter continues to take pregame work at second to improve his versatility.

Worth noting

• Initially scheduled to start on Friday, Matt Holliday was later scratched as a precautionary measure due to the slick field conditions. Friday's game was delayed two hours and 20 minutes because of rain.

Holliday exited the Cardinals' game on Tuesday with lower back tightness and hasn't played since. Holliday underwent extensive therapy and treatment on the off-day on Thursday to address the injury issue. He is available off the bench on Friday, if needed.

• Double-A Springfield fell to Tulsa on Thursday to even the best-of-five Texas League playoff series to 1-1. The Springfield Cardinals mustered only four hits in the 3-0 loss. Seth Maness allowed three runs on six hits in six innings and shouldered the loss.

The series moves to Springfield on Friday night, where the Cardinals will host the next two -- or, if necessary, three -- games.

• Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that Cardinals Minor Leaguer Alan Ahmady will be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season after testing positive for a drug of abuse. This is Ahmady's second violation of the Minor League Drug and Prevention Program. Ahmady batted .292 in 92 games this season. He could not serve any of the suspension this year because his season has already ended.

• Despite their sub-.500 season record, the Brewers enter this series on a hot streak. Milwaukee has won 13 of its last 17 games. Seven of those wins have come on the road.