CINCINNAT -- Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday after arguing a call with second-base umpire Mike Muchlinski during a 3-1 loss to the Reds.

Down, 1-0, with one out and a runner on first, Cincinnati's Joey Votto hit a chopper to second baseman Skip Schumaker, who tried to get a forceout by throwing to Theriot. Schumaker's throw was high and to the right of the bag, and Muchlinski ruled that Theriot's right foot came off the base before he corralled the ball.

"I understand that it's a tough play to call, it really is," Theriot said after the game. "But, in saying that, you've got to be 100 percent sure, especially in that situation."

Theriot immediately stormed over to Muchlinski to argue. The shortstop had to be held back, initially by first-base umpire Chris Guccione, then by Albert Pujols.

Theriot said he was trying to drag his foot across the bag, from one corner to the other. After watching replays in the clubhouse, he remained adamant that Muchlinski blew the call.

"I just felt pretty strongly about the fact that I was on the base and dragged my foot across the base and literally watched my foot drag across the base," he said.

Zack Cozart, the player who was ruled safe at second, actually over slid the base. But Theriot's first move was toward the umpire, allowing Cozart to return to the bag. Cozart later scored after a pair of wild pitches by Jaime Garcia.

Right fielder Lance Berkman said Muchlinski's call swung the game in Cincinnati's favor.

"It was a huge blown call that went against us," he said. "You never know how that game is going to play out if we get out of that inning and we're still up, 1-0."

Punto could be headed back to DL

CINCINNATI -- Nick Punto was not scheduled to travel with the Cardinals to New York following a 3-1 loss on Sunday, as the team sought another medical opinion on the utility infielder.

Citing an anonymous source, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported Sunday morning that Punto would return to the disabled list following Saturday night's game, when he sailed a throw over Albert Pujols' head in the eighth inning. Punto, who suffered ligament damage when he strained his right forearm in late May, said he had not been informed of any decision prior to Sunday's game, and the team had yet to make an announcement.

Punto appeared as a pinch-hitter on Sunday, singling in the eighth inning. He did not remain in the game to play the field.

"He's been seeing a doctor," manager Tony La Russa said before the game, "but I think [he needs] more of an exam, so we can get the most current information, make a decision."

Punto returned from the DL on June 27, but in his first 11 games back he had only played second base. Before Saturday's game, Punto told La Russa that he could play on the left side of the infield, if needed.

La Russa brought him in as a defensive replacement for third baseman David Freese, and his only throw resulted in a two-base error. Signed in the offseason for his defense, Punto has given the Cardinals' offense a boost, hitting .275 in 91 at-bats.

"It's just the breaks that happen, but I feel bad for him," La Russa said. "Of course, he's got a career ahead of him, but we've got to keep going."

La Russa scraps plan to rest Freese in finale

CINCINNATI -- Daniel Descalso was originally scheduled to start at third base in a 3-1 loss on Sunday afternoon, but manager Tony La Russa scratched him in favor of David Freese about two hours before game time.

La Russa originally wanted to give Freese the day off. The third baseman started Friday and Saturday. Freese was hitless in three at-bats on Sunday.

"I watched him for two days; it's hot here, he was sweating. I thought, 'He's going to be a little vulnerable,'" La Russa said before the game. "He came in -- once the guys got here -- bright-eyed and bushy tailed. That's our veteran lineup, so he plays and Dan will come in later."

Freese finished Sunday hitting .319 this season. Descalso, who entered the game in the sixth inning when Ryan Theriot was ejected, was hitless in an at-bat and was batting .258.

Jay makes case for more playing time

CINCINNATI -- Jon Jay stated his case for more playing time at center field on Saturday night, going 3-for-4 and making a pair of nice defensive plays.

In the second inning, he tracked a fly ball off the bat of Scott Rolen to the wall, saving a potential extra-base hit. Then, with a runner on second and one out in the fifth, Jay snagged a shallow fly ball and doubled up Drew Stubbs at second to end the inning.

Of his three hits, Jay's fifth-inning bunt single proved to be the most important. With two outs and a runner on first, he laid down a roller that crawled down the third-base line, allowing him to reach safely and extend the inning. Albert Pujols followed with the go-ahead homer.

Jay gave the Cards some insurance in the seventh with a two-out single up the middle, plating Skip Schumaker from second.

"That's about as complete as you can play," manager Tony La Russa said after the game.

La Russa added that Jay's strong play made the manager consider starting him in a 3-1 loss on Sunday in place of everyday center fielder Colby Rasmus, something he ultimately decided not to do. But Jay, who walked as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, has been surging lately, making him a popular option with Rasmus struggling.

Rasmus finished Sunday hitting .185 (24-for-130) since June 1. Jay, who has started 13 games in center field this year compared to Rasmus' 83, hit .275 during that same stretch with 10 fewer at-bats.

"Whatever the situation is, I just try to capitalize on it," Jay said. "It's a long season, so I got to keep the same mindset the whole year."

Baby birds

• Nick Additon allowed three runs on eight hits in seven innings as Triple-A Memphis lost, 3-2, to Round Rock. Tyler Greene extended his hit streak to 12 games, Aaron Luna hit his ninth homer of the year and James Rapoport registered a pair of hits.

• Joe Kelly gave up two runs on three hits in eight innings, earning his first win since getting promoted to Double-A Springfield as the Cardinals beat Northwest Arkansas, 7-3. Ryan Jackson's double extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest active streak in the Texas League.

• Adam Meiker hit a sac fly in the ninth inning of Class A Advanced Palm Beach's 3-2 win at Tampa. Jordan Swagerty earned the save.

• Michael Swinson hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 13th as Class A Quad Cities downed Dayton, 8-7. Oscar Taveras scored the winning run and went 4-for-7, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Geoff Klein was 4-for-4 and Cody Stanley hit a two-run homer in the fifth.

• Sean Watson tossed two scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win in Class A short-season Batavia's 4-2 win at Auburn.

• Michael Santana took the loss after giving up a home run in the top of the 10th as Rookie League Johnson City lost to Princeton, 3-2. It was the first run allowed by Santana in eight appearances this season. Starter Tyrell Jenkins gave up two runs (one earned) and struck out six in six innings.