SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals played without Matt Holliday in Sunday's Game 6 loss to the Giants, and they may be left to play without their starting left fielder and No. 3 hitter for the winner-take-all finale of the National League Championship Series on Monday.
Concerned by how Holliday was compensating for lower back pain while taking his swings in batting practice on Sunday, manager Mike Matheny, against Holliday's wishes, made a late lineup change on Sunday. Holliday was removed, opening a spot for Matt Carpenter to be added.
Carpenter hit second and played first base, while Allen Craig shifted to left field in place of Holliday. Carlos Beltran moved down one spot in the batting order to hit third.
"It's been bothering him for a while, and we talked today and he said it felt better," Matheny said shortly before first pitch. "He's adamant that he can play, but I was watching him take BP, and he's really having a hard time finishing [his swing]."
Holliday was not available for comment after the team's 6-1 loss. However, Matheny relayed news that Holliday's back had tightened up even more as the night progressed. That leaves a return for Monday's Game 7 in question.
"We'll see," Matheny said, "when we get here tomorrow."
Holliday has fought back tightness throughout the season, though none of the episodes were serious enough to keep the veteran outfielder off the field long. He missed two games in June due to back spasms, and sat again on Sept. 5 with lower back pain. Holliday played in 157 of the team's 162 regular-season games.
Holliday came into Game 6 hitting .222 in 11 postseason games. He drove home two runs in the team's Game 4 win over San Francisco.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.