Matt Holliday was back in the lineup for Game 7 of the NL championship series for the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night, a day after being a late scratch with tightness in his lower back.
Holliday was slated to hit third against Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants in the winner-take-all game for a trip to the World Series.
"They've been working on him nonstop," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He feels much better and we're confident that he's not just going to be out there, but be able to be productive."
Holliday is just 4 for 21 with no extra-base hits and two RBIs in the series. He is hitting .222 with one homer and seven RBIs in 45 at-bats this postseason. Holliday missed Game 7 of the World Series a year ago with a wrist injury.
With Holliday starting, Matt Carpenter began the game on the bench despite being 5 for 6 with one homer and four RBIs in his career against Cain, including a homer in Game 3 in place of Carlos Beltran.
"Not a lot of places you can put him in the lineup," Matheny said. "We've done this all season. He's been a great fill for whatever we need. But you started looking at him playing in the outfield in the corners and you've got Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig and David Freese on the corners in the infield. Those are guys that have all been valuable parts of our lineup.
"We don't deny what Matt's been able to do against Cain, but if anything does happen with any of our guys along the way, we've got a good option."
SUNNY SKIES: All that concern about a rainy Game 7 proved to be mostly unnecessary.
After a rainy night in San Francisco, the sun came out in the morning and both teams were able to take batting practice on the field before the game. A light drizzle fell briefly while the Cardinals took BP, but the game was set to start without a delay.
"It's good not to have that being an issue in a big game like this," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The ground crew put the tarp on the field as soon as the Giants won Game 6 and the field was in good condition despite the overnight rainfall.
"This ground crew, they do a great job," Bochy said. "If there were any issues with water you'd hear the machines going. As far as I know it's in great shape and all set to go."
GAME 7 HISTORY: This marked just the second Game 7 ever played in San Francisco.
The first one, coming a half-century ago, provided one of the most dramatic endings ever for a winner-take-all game in baseball's postseason.
With the New York Yankees protecting a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning at Candlestick Park, the Giants put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Willie McCovey then hit a screaming liner that second baseman Bobby Richardson grabbed to end the Series.
"It's been a few years, to put it mildly," former Giants first baseman Will Clark said. "It's just the way things have gone. In '89 we had a Game 5, and in 2002 we had a Game 7 but it was in Anaheim. In 2010 we didn't get to a Game 7."
SAFE SCOOTING: Hunter Pence has been utilizing a most unusual form of transportation to get to and from the ballpark since joining the San Francisco Giants earlier this season.
Pence has been riding a motorized scooter through San Francisco's streets each day to get to work.
"Don't worry about it," he said of anyone concerned about his scooter riding. "It's fun. It's relaxing. My mind is always clear. It's just a nice ride. I don't ride it in the street. I'm partially in the bike lane and partially on the sidewalk. I use the bike lane if it looks clear. It's 5 minutes on the scooter, six blocks."
Bochy says the unconventional transportation is not a concern, saying injured closer Brian Wilson also does it.
"I really don't think about it, to be honest," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I don't see him roll in. I've heard about it, but these guys are going to live their lives and you want them to have fun, as long as it's under control. I think he should be able to handle that."
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.