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The Cardinals’ lineup again is likely to be minus cleanup man Matt Holliday, who visited a specialist for inflammation on his right middle finger that makes it painful to throw or grip a bat. La Russa was pessimistic, noting Holliday was in a lot of pain after striking out as a pinch-hitter to end Game 1.

Allen Craig would get the start in place of Holliday. He’s played right field the first two games, with Lance Berkman moving to left field and sliding down one slot to cleanup.

The wild-card Cardinals, who qualified on the final day of the season, are very much alive because of the hitters who kept attacking Cliff Lee to erase a four-run deficit in Game 2, and because of the pitchers who picked up the pieces after ace Chris Carpenter faltered while pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in the opener.

“The most important thing was it created a series,” La Russa said. “I mean, we go down 2-0, I mean as optimistic as we are, that’s a big, big hole.”

De facto closer Jason Motte, a former catcher with a high-90s (mph) fastball, needed just nine pitches for a four-out save that silenced a record crowd at Citizens Bank Park in a 5-4 victory on Sunday night. Fernando Salas, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs and Arthur Rhodes allowed just one hit in 4 2-3 innings combined.

“The great thing about that game is every reliever deserves a piece of that win,” La Russa said. “If one of the guys had had a bad day, we lose.”

Because Carpenter threw only 64 pitches, theoretically he’ll be better prepared if the series goes to five games. Having the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner available for two games was the reasoning behind the decision to use him in Game 2.

Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) had nine of his victories at home and recovered from a rough August (0-2, 6.84) with a stellar September (3-0, 2.64). He allowed one earned run in 15 innings in two starts against the Phillies this year with no decisions and is 2-1 with 1.20 ERA for his career against them, holding them to a .178 average.

“He’s very deceptive,” Phillies cleanup hitter Ryan Howard said. “He’s got a weird kind of release, and he mixes it up pretty well.”