PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has not gotten a day off since Sept. 4, discounting scheduled off-days on Sept. 8 and 15.
It was time.
"Yadier would be a push," manager Tony La Russa said. "But you have [Gerald] Laird, who works [starter Kyle] Lohse well and has some experience with [Phillies starter Roy] Halladay."
Nick Punto also started at second base in place of Skip Schumaker.
"I like the lineup," La Russa said. "I just don't like who we're facing."
Craig filling in quite nicely for injured Holliday
PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has an interesting decision to make going forward.
Outfielder Matt Holliday, one of the cornerstones of the lineup, has been out since Sept. 14 with an inflamed tendon in his right middle finger, which he suffered while taking swings in the on-deck circle in the ninth inning the night before.
Taking his place is Allen Craig, who hit two home runs, a double and drove in three runs in Sunday night's 5-0 victory against the Phillies. Since returning Aug. 10 from a fractured right kneecap that cost him 54 games, Craig is 18-for-65 (.277), and half of those hits have gone for extra bases.
"He's a guy, some day when he gets his at-bats, you'll see what kind of year he can put together," La Russa said of Craig.
As long as Craig continues to produce, Holliday -- who did not make the road trip -- should not feel an urgency to return. But the Cards need to sprint through the tape if they want a chance to overtake the Brewers or Braves for a playoff spot.
"There's no reason to push Matt to come back with a soreness that could develop into something worse," La Russa said. "Craig is a legitimate producer for us. But the club's built around Matt, one of the guys we build our club around, so when he's healthy, he plays."
Manager Tony La Russa said before Monday's game that he would like to stay away from relievers Fernando Salas and Kyle McClellan in the finale against the Phillies. Salas has pitched the last three nights, and McClellan is on one day of rest.
Lance Berkman is expected to return to right field Tuesday, when the Cardinals open their final homestand against the Mets.
"I think he likes the shorter runs to the dugout," La Russa quipped.
Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.