ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina missed a second straight game as he recovers from some left calf tightness. The Cardinals hope he will be able to play in Monday's series opener against the Brewers, but manager Tony La Russa left open the possibility that Molina could miss still another day.

"Hopeful is probably the best way to put it," La Russa said. "But if he's not ready, we've got Gerald [Laird] ready to go."

Laird started a second straight game on Sunday. The Cardinals do not have another catcher on their active roster. Infielder Daniel Descalso is considered the emergency catcher.

Tony Cruz, who served as Molina's backup earlier this year when Laird was injured, is at Triple-A Memphis. La Russa said that the club does not expect to call up Cruz until after the Minor League season ends on Monday.

Motte on a dominating roll for Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Jason Motte is, for the time being, too valuable to be confined to one role. So he's filling a few.

Mostly, though, Motte is just getting zeros. The right-hander made his 21st consecutive scoreless appearance on Saturday, getting the last five outs of the Cardinals' 6-4 win against the Reds. He appears to have emerged as the primary option to get saves for the Cardinals, though far from the only one. Yet he also is a security blanket for manager Tony La Russa in earlier high-leverage situations.

"There may be matchups in the eighth ... where you ought to pitch Motte, because [otherwise] you won't get to the ninth," La Russa said. "And you've got somebody else who can pitch the ninth like [Fernando] Salas. So that's why I think it's a mistake to put him in that category of ninth-inning pitchers, because he's still the best that we have coming out of the bullpen during an inning."

Motte insists he pays no mind to how he's used. It seems to be working, particularly against left-handed hitters. Motte has been far more effective against lefties this year than in his previous two seasons, increasing La Russa's willingness to use him as more than a tactical right-handed specialist.

"I think we've all said it before in the bullpen -- we just go out there when the phone rings," Motte said. "When the phone rings and he says, 'Get going,' you get going. I really don't look at it. I do the same routine every day, regardless of when I think I may pitch. Whether I think I'm down or not down, I do the same thing every day."

Baby birds

• Adam Ottavino finished his season strong, pitching seven quality innings to lead Triple-A Memphis past Nashville, 4-1.

• Matt Adams blasted his 32nd home run, helping Double-A Springfield beat Arkansas, 7-4.

• Class A Palm Beach split a doubleheader with St. Lucie, losing by a 3-1 score before taking a 10-5 win. Starlin Rodriguez, Xavier Scruggs and Edgar Lara all homered in the win.

• Class A Quad Cities was rained out.

• Short-season Batavia was held to five hits in a 2-1 loss to Auburn.

• Neal Pritchard's one-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave rookie-level Johnson City a 4-3 win over Bluefield in the first game of the Appalachian League championship series. J.C. trailed, 3-0, for the first six innings before rallying. Johnson City will attempt to finish off the best-of-three series on Sunday evening.

• The rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals are done for the year.

Ottavino is the player of the day. He allowed a run on six hits, striking out two and walking two. Ottavino finishes the season with a 7-8 record, a 4.85 ERA, 120 strikeouts and 71 walks in 141 innings. Ottavino, 25, was a first-round Draft pick in 2006.


• Manager Tony La Russa indicated Sunday that Nick Stavinoha is not likely to be recalled after the Triple-A season comes to an end.

• Kyle Lohse is now set as the Cardinals' starter on Tuesday against Milwaukee. There had been some small level of doubt regarding Lohse's start after he was listed as an available reliever on Saturday. Instead of appearing in the game, however, Lohse threw a bullpen session during Saturday's game.

• The club has not announced a starter for Friday's series opener against Atlanta, following an off-day. The Cardinals could keep Edwin Jackson on his fifth day and bump Jaime Garcia back to extra rest again, or pitch Garcia on Friday and Jackson on Saturday, each on five days' rest.

• Nick Punto is expected to be activated from the disabled list during the current homestand.

• La Russa did not rule out another start for rookie Brandon Dickson this year but said it is quite unlikely.