HOUSTON -- As the 2011 Cardinals stir memories of previous clubs, like the 2001 and 1964 Redbirds, who made stirring comebacks, manager Tony La Russa may be pondering a tactic that helped the 2006 Cards en route to the World Series.

Without specifically saying so, La Russa seemed to indicate Monday that he is pondering holding ace Chris Carpenter back from Wednesday's game against the Astros if the Cardinals can get a lead in the National League Wild Card race before then. St. Louis would need to win on Monday and Tuesday and Atlanta would need to lose on both of those days in order for it even to be a possibility.

Asked broadly whether he was considering any adjustments to his rotation over the final three games, La Russa was cagy.

"There is one scenario, without getting into it, that I've given some thought," La Russa said, adding that it would be a "good scenario," not a bad one.

As things stand, Carpenter is scheduled to start Wednesday's season finale. If the Cardinals and Braves played a one-game tiebreaker on Thursday, Kyle Lohse would start that game. That would leave Edwin Jackson as a potential Game 1 starter in a National League Division Series in Philadelphia. Carpenter could not pitch in that scenario before Game 3.

If the Cardinals were to hold Carpenter back in hopes of not needing him, they could start him in Game 1 of the Division Series. If they were to end up needing to play a one-game tiebreaker after holding Carpenter back, they could pitch him on Thursday and still have him available in Game 3 of the Division Series.

La Russa utilized just such a gambit on the final day of the 2006 season. He started Anthony Reyes on the season's final day, rather than Carpenter, even though the Cardinals had not yet secured a division title. They won the NL Central that day and had Carpenter available to pitch their playoff opener.

Lynn's progress a positive sign for 2012

HOUSTON -- Rehabbing right-hander Lance Lynn faced hitters Monday for the first time since sustaining a strained left oblique muscle. However, Lynn and Cardinals officials cautioned against making too much of the throwing session in the short term.

It's basically a certainty that Lynn will not pitch again in 2011, regardless of whether the Cardinals make the playoffs or how deep they go in October. In fact, Monday's session represented the primary target for Lynn, who was injured on Aug. 9 and is on the 60-day disabled list.

"That was our goal, to get to where I could throw to hitters," Lynn said. "So we're where we wanted to be, just to make sure going into the offseason that I would be fully healthy to do everything I need to do to be ready for Spring Training.'

Lynn had been throwing off a mound for some time before Monday, but the early afternoon exercise represented his first time throwing with hitters in the box. Adron Chambers, Shane Robinson and Tony Cruz took swings during Lynn's 20-pitch throwing session at Minute Maid Park.

"He was healthy and everybody wanted to see it, and he was very impressive, actually," manager Tony La Russa said. "But nothing beyond that."

If the Cardinals were to advance to the National League Championship Series, Lynn could, by rule, be added to the active roster. But that is not in the picture at this time.

Duncan to visit Cardinals on Wednesday

HOUSTON -- Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is expected to visit with the club on Wednesday, the last scheduled day of the regular season.

Duncan has been on a leave of absence for more than a month as he tends to his wife, Jeanine, who underwent surgery in August to remove a brain tumor. Derek Lilliquist, normally the Cardinals' bullpen coach, has taken over pitching-coach duties in Duncan's stead.

"I think it would be really neat for our club to see him," manager Tony La Russa said.

"His comment was, 'Look, I don't want to get in the way.' I said, 'I appreciate it, Dave, but we're not as good without you.' So I think there's a good chance he'll be here Wednesday."

La Russa said he did not know whether Duncan would be present if the Cardinals were to advance to the playoffs, but he did not sound as though it was likely.

Worth noting

• Adam Wainwright threw another bullpen session on Monday, 40 pitches prior to the Cardinals' game against the Astros. He still is not throwing changeups or breaking balls, and acknowledged that it's virtually impossible for him to pitch any competitive innings in 2011.

• The Cardinals set a National League record on Monday when they grounded into their 167th and 168th double plays of the season. The Major League record is 174.

• After switching for two days, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman returned to their customary places in the Cardinals' lineup on Monday, with Holliday fourth and Berkman fifth.