HOUSTON -- As the Cardinals continue to their run at the National League Wild Card, their degree of difficulty keeps getting higher. A day after losing Rafael Furcal to a hamstring injury, Matt Holliday was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Astros because of pain in his right hand.
Manager Tony La Russa said that Holliday will not start Wednesday's series finale against Houston, but he would not speculate beyond that. The discomfort is apparently a recurrence of, or related to, an injury Holliday dealt with earlier this month. He missed nine games due to an inflamed tendon in his right hand.
"I don't know what this means, beyond [Allen] Craig is playing left field [Wednesday]," manager Tony La Russa said. "But it's not good news."
Holliday reported additional discomfort in his hand prior to Tuesday's game, but attempted to play. However, after 2 1/2 innings and one at-bat, the situation became too problematic, and he was removed in favor of Craig.
"He didn't take batting practice in a group, which should have told me something," La Russa said. "I saw him, I'd already written the lineup, and he said, 'I've got a little something.' ... Right then, I thought, 'I'm not sure if this is smart.' We let him go out there, and not only did it bother him to swing, it bothered him to throw."
Craig was 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs coming off the bench.
Furcal unlikely to return against Astros
HOUSTON -- Rafael Furcal felt some improvement in his sore left hamstring on Tuesday, but not nearly enough to play in the Cardinals' game against the Astros. Furcal is expected to miss the remainder of the Cardinals' series in Houston.
Any potential availability beyond Wednesday remains unknown. If the Cardinals tie the Braves in the National League Wild Card race, they would play a one-game tiebreaker in St. Louis on Thursday night. The NL Division Series starts on Saturday.
"I just heard [Furcal will miss] this series," manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't know how bad it is."
Furcal injured the hamstring, one that has bothered him before, in Monday night's loss to Houston. He acknowledged he was still having some problems with it on Tuesday.
"I feel a little sore, but a little better," he said.
"It's a disappointment. Terrible. All the time I was on track, getting better, getting better, get hurt. It's tough."
Nick Punto started at shortstop for the Cardinals on Tuesday.
La Russa won't discuss future until offseason
HOUSTON -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa declined to address speculation about his future on Tuesday, insisting that any announcements or discussion of that topic will have to wait until after the Cardinals' season ends.
A couple of different rumors have swirled around La Russa in recent days. Numerous outlets have speculated that he could go to Chicago after the White Sox parted ways with Ozzie Guillen. A separate round of rumors in St. Louis suggested that La Russa may imminently announce his retirement.
"I'm answering it the way I like to answer, which is, we're one game behind with two to play," La Russa said. "And there's 100 percent attention on that. You want to ask me if I'm going to come back next year, I'll tell you we're one game behind with two to play. I don't think about it."
Besides, La Russa added, "How can I be retiring and going to Chicago too?"
The club and La Russa hold a mutual option on his services for 2012, which could complicate any thoughts of his going elsewhere. General manager John Mozeliak likewise had little to offer on the subject of his manager's future, though it's consistently been made clear that the club will keep La Russa for as long as he wishes to stay.
"We're going to handle that when the season ends," Mozeliak said. "Today is Tuesday. It's about tonight."
The Cardinals held a round of organizational meetings on Tuesday, with a group that included principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr., general manager John Mozeliak and manager Tony La Russa.
Wednesday night's game in Houston will be carried on ESPN2, as well as FSN Midwest.
Yadier Molina's three walks on Tuesday tied a career high. It was the fifth time in his career that the catcher had a three-walk game, and the first time since 2009.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.