Beltran out third straight game with sore knee

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- St. Louis Cardinals slugger Carlos Beltran is missing his third straight start with a sore right knee, though he and manager Mike Matheny believe he will avoid a stint on the disabled list.

Matheny says Beltran could have played in Wednesday night's series opener with the San Francisco Giants, but with the cool Bay Area weather it wasn't worth risking further problems. Beltran is likely to start Thursday afternoon's finale at AT&T Park against his former club with which he finished the 2011 season.

Beltran, who says the Giants never inquired during the winter about bringing him back, batted .360 with an NL-best six home runs, 13 RBIs and eight runs scored last week to earn NL Player of the Week honors.

Team doctors planned to examine Beltran again.