ST. LOUIS -- Following an examination that put his mind at ease, Matt Holliday took a couple of steps forward on the field on Tuesday. Holliday took batting practice outside for the first time in several days, and then pinch-hit in the Cardinals' 3-2 National League Division Series loss to the Phillies.
Holliday did not rule out the possibility that he could do more than pinch-hit before the series comes to an end. After the game, he said he felt quite a bit better than after his previous pinch-hit at-bat in Saturday's Game 1.
The outfielder has been battling tendinitis in his right hand since mid-September. He pinch-hit in Game 1 of the NLDS and did not appear in Game 2 before singling in the eighth inning of Game 3. Prior to the second game of the series, Holliday said he had only been swinging when he was about to come in a game, and not at all during pregame warmups. On Tuesday, he took his normal BP on the field at Busch Stadium with teammates.
"I feel better," Holliday said after swinging. "I had an MRI [on Monday], and it basically showed better inflammation."
Asked what his status would be for Game 4, Holliday still wasn't sure -- but he wasn't ruling anything out.
"I don't know," he said. "Just see how it goes tomorrow."
The Cards had feared that they might have to deactivate Holliday and remove him from their roster, but the tone of the club's comments about the left fielder has changed significantly in 48 hours.
"I think after all those studies yesterday, there was a sense of relief that it actually looks like it's improving," said general manager John Mozeliak. "I think from a mental standpoint, he feels better about it, and he doesn't feel like he's risking anything by trying."
And that last point may be the key one. Holliday acknowledged that the exam helped him be more willing to cut loose a little bit.
"They said I can't really hurt it worse," he said.
Late Game 3 start time irks Cards
ST. LOUIS -- When the Cardinals learned the start times for their two home games in the National League Division Series, it's fair to say the hitters weren't too pleased. As Tuesday's game played out, their concerns were confirmed.
One Cards hitter after another repeated their late-season gripes about the challenges of hitting in the late afternoon at Busch Stadium following the 4 p.m. CT start. St. Louis was shut out on five hits over the first six innings of its 3-2 loss, before scoring two runs on seven hits over the final three frames.
Lance Berkman, for one, said that was no coincidence. He, like several others, noted the shadows that crept across the field. At first pitch, a bar of light could be found in between home plate and the pitcher's mound, both of which were covered in shadow. Within an hour or so, the whole infield was covered in shadow, but Berkman said that it was still difficult, because the batter's eye in center field had a different light from the mound and batter's box.
"All you have to do is look at the hitter's eye," Berkman said. "If it's in full sun [and the field is in the shadows], it's not good. As soon as the shadows get to the hitter's eye, [it's OK].
"I don't want to make too big a deal of this, because [Phillies starter Cole Hamels] pitched a great ballgame. I think it would have been extremely tough to get anything done if we had ideal conditions. But you never know what happens, how the game plays out differently. That's about all I want to say about it. Tip your hat to [Hamels]. He's a great pitcher. He did a great job today."
The concerns about the late-afternoon start time were enough that the Cardinals asked Major League Baseball to minimize such starts on their 2012 schedule. For Tuesday's playoff game, though, they got no such break.
"It's tough," said Albert Pujols. "But we can't do anything about it. We can talk all year long, we've been talking all year long. There's nothing we can do about it. Maybe if we were the New York Yankees, maybe we would have played an 8 o'clock game today. ...
"I just don't understand why we're playing a 4 o'clock game when the league knows that we have tough shadows out there. But there's nothing you can do. They're making their money, they're paying their money. I guess they put the game time however they want it to."
La Russa: 'No argument' about MLB's fine
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa acknowledged Tuesday that he has been fined by Major League Baseball following his televised in-game comments during Sunday night's Game 2 against the Phillies. La Russa also expressed contrition for his comments.
In an interview with TBS during Game 2 of the National League Division Series, La Russa said home-plate umpire Jerry Meals had "two different strike zones" for starting pitchers Chris Carpenter and Cliff Lee. On Tuesday, he expressed regret over the remarks.
"I have no disagreement at all," La Russa said. "As soon as MLB called, my response was, 'Whatever is imposed, you'll get no argument.' I'm embarrassed that I crossed the line. I know what the line is. I got upset and I crossed the line. If I get a chance, I will apologize to Jerry. Like I said, I've never had any problems with him. He's a pro. He has my utmost respect. We were competing, and I got upset and crossed the line."
General manager John Mozeliak likewise had no complaints about the discipline.
"I think when you take a step back, everybody has a job to do," Mozeliak said. "In the heat of the battle, you want to see things go your way. Anybody would be the same. But ultimately, you have to respect what those men do for a living and how they do it. That's sort of the organizational standpoint."
Theriot, Pujols join special four-hit group
ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Theriot and Albert Pujols became the first set of Cardinals teammates in 65 years to have four hits in a playoff game when each went 4-for-5 in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night.
They became the 11th and 12th players to have four hits in a postseason game for the Cards and the first to do it in the same game since Enos Slaughter, Whitney Kurowski and Joe Garagiola led a club postseason-record 20-hit attack in a 12-3 win over Boston in Game 4 of the 1946 World Series.
Theriot, who was 2-for-4 in Game 2 on Sunday, had singles in his first four at-bats Tuesday before grounding out to end the game. It's the most hits Theriot has had in a playoff game and his third multihit postseason game, raising his career batting average in the playoffs to .375.
"I'm seeing the ball good and getting a few hits here and there," Theriot said.
Pujols doubled in the first and fifth, singled in the seventh inning and doubled and scored in the ninth in between flying out to center field in the third. It's his 22nd career postseason multihit game, tying a club postseason record for doubles in a game.
Game 4 starter Jackson eager to swing the bat
ST. LOUIS -- A return to the National League not only allowed Cardinals pitcher Edwin Jackson to join a team in the thick of the postseason chase, it allowed him to swing a bat again.
After joining the Cards on July 27 from the White Sox as part of a three-team, seven-player deal, Jackson not only impressed his new team with his right arm (5-2, 3.58 ERA over 13 games) but with his bat as well.
A career .184 hitter in 98 career at-bats, Jackson hit .308 in 26 at-bats following the trade, with two key RBIs.
Jackson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in a 3-2 Cardinals victory over the Cubs on Sept. 25. His other RBI was in another tight game, a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Aug. 30.
Jackson, who will start Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Wednesday at Busch Stadium, was asked Tuesday about his prowess at the bat and how a return to a NL team has given him a chance to show off his all-around game.
"Man, it's just a stroke of luck, [like] swinging with my eyes closed," Jackson said. "[In the] National League, you get a chance to help yourself, which you don't have that luxury in the American League.
"Any time you do get a chance and you can prove to the manager that you can handle the bat, it definitely keeps you in the game longer, whether you can bunt or you can hit and run. Or knowing [manager Tony La Russa], sometimes he takes off the bunt and hit and run, and he lets you swing away."
Duncan a comforting presence for La Russa
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals had to trim their roster from September's expanded number to the usual 25 men when the playoffs started. But they also made a major addition in the dugout, as pitching coach Dave Duncan returned to his full duties.
Duncan has resumed his role alongside manager Tony La Russa, and that's excellent news for the club. He had been on a leave of absence to tend to his wife, Jeanine, who underwent brain surgery in August.
"We're back to operating as we think is our best chance, and he's been part of our best chance for how many years," La Russa said. "Part of his contributions are the preparation before the game, and we continued that, because we've got a lot of his information, we continue to talk to him. But his in-game contributions, conversation with [catcher Yadier Molina], conversations with the pitcher, talking with me about matchups, now we have that. We did good without him, and Derek [Lilliquist] did a really good job. But we were just working his process.
"Now we have him there, and I can tell you, just in Game 2, we had a number of conversations about what we were both seeing. I mean, it's great to have him back."
The Cardinals used an almost identical lineup in Game 3 as they did in Game 2. The only change was moving Lance Berkman to right field and Allen Craig to left, plus, of course Jaime Garcia, on the mound.
Tuesday was manager Tony La Russa's 67th birthday and Kyle Lohse's 33rd.
Albert Pujols (4-for-5, one run) broke Jim Edmonds' franchise Division Series records for at-bats (85, four ahead of Edmonds) and hits (28, one ahead of Edmonds) in Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Game 3, and he tied Edmonds' mark for runs (17). Pujols has 16 RBIs, remaining one behind Edmonds in that category.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.