ST. LOUIS -- When it came down to it, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa just couldn't start anyone but Chris Carpenter for Game 7 of the World Series. A rainout meant his ace was available to pitch on three days' rest, and while there were other options, Carpenter pretty much had to be the choice.

After playing coy for two days, La Russa finally confirmed the unsurprising decision on Friday afternoon, a few hours before first pitch.

"Actually didn't decide until this morning," La Russa said. "And I think first of all, [pitching coach Dave Duncan] had a real heart-to-heart with him to gauge just how ready he was to pitch just physically, not mentally but physically. And then I think if he would be available to pitch, he probably would have pitched in this game sometime. [It] makes sense to start him -- goes through his routine, gives us all he has. And it made less sense, I think, to come out of the bullpen at some point -- got to rush, warm up, warm him up once, you don't use him, all that stuff. It's complicated."

La Russa acknowledged that it would have been difficult to face his club without having used his ace in the final game of the season. Carpenter pitched Game 1 and Game 5 of the Series.

Sprained right wrist forces Holliday off roster

ST. LOUIS -- When the pain in Matt Holliday's right wrist kept him from sleeping Thursday night, he knew the news on Friday morning wouldn't be good. It wasn't. Holliday was removed from the Cardinals' World Series roster on Friday in favor of Adron Chambers due to a sprained right wrist.

Holliday and manager Tony La Russa both said the injury would have landed Holliday on the 15-day disabled list if it had occurred during the regular season. He sustained it when he rolled his wrist while sliding into third base on a pickoff play in the sixth inning of Thursday night's Game 6 win. Holliday also felt his right pinkie finger stepped on, but by Friday morning that was the smaller issue.

"As the night went on, my wrist started bothering me pretty bad, to the point where I couldn't sleep," he said. "So I talked to Greg [Hauck, head athletic trainer] earlier this morning and said I thought I should get it looked at. And they found some pretty substantial inflammation in there."

Holliday wore a soft cast on his wrist as he spoke with reporters and estimated that it would be removed in a couple of days. Still, there was no doubt that he could not play on Friday. The Commissioner's Office must approve roster moves for injuries during the World Series.

"It's difficult when you have to [remove] one of your core guys," La Russa said. "But in a situation like this, the evaluation is what can he provide to you if he plays, pinch-running? I mean, you really couldn't put him out there if he can't swing the bat. Once we knew the extent of the sprain, we had to [take him out]."

Theriot back leading off; Furcal in No. 7 spot

ST. LOUIS -- And the last looked a lot like the first.

Ryan Theriot reclaimed the Cardinals' leadoff spot on Friday night for Game 7 of the World Series, returning to a lineup position he occupied for the bulk of the season's first four months. Theriot had been bumped out of the top spot with the arrival of Rafael Furcal. But with Furcal slumping, manager Tony La Russa made the move to drop Furcal to the No. 7 spot and use Theriot as the leadoff man against Rangers left-handed starter Matt Harrison.

"Furcal has been struggling," La Russa said. "I've been thinking about moving him just to take a little pressure off himself. He's putting too much on. We have Theriot, who's hit leadoff, and putting Furcal down seventh is a good spot because you can drive in a run there."

Theriot got the start at second over Nick Punto, while Skip Schumaker again started in center field in place of Jon Jay.

Tidbits

• Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook were all considered available out of the bullpen for the Cardinals on Friday night, with Westbrook the most likely to get a call to pitch.

• David Freese's 19 RBIs tied him with Sandy Alomar Jr., David Ortiz and Scott Spiezio for the most in a single postseason.

• Chris Carpenter entered Friday night already leading all pitchers this postseason with 30 innings pitched.