Allen Craig in, Shane Victorino out

Updated: October 28, 2013, 8:36 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

ST. LOUIS -- He might not be able to run, but Allen Craig is going to play.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny altered his original lineup for Monday night's Game 5 of the World Series, dropping first baseman Matt Adams for Craig, who is batting .444 (4-for-9) in the Series but is still suffering the effects of stretched ligaments in his left foot.

Craig, who doubled off Red Sox closer Koji Uehara and scored the winning run on an obstruction play in Game 3 -- in which he might have aggravated the injury -- also singled as a pinch hitter in Game 4, when he lined a ball to the right-field fence but could make it only as far as first base.

However, according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Craig went to Matheny late Monday afternoon and asked to play, and the manager relented. Craig, who drove in 97 runs in the regular season, had a single in four trips while serving as designated hitter against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester in Game 1, an 8-1 Red Sox win.

Matheny also moved Carlos Beltran, who batted second in Game 1, to the cleanup spot behind Matt Holliday. Shane Robinson, who hit eighth in Game 1, will bat second.

"We take everything into consideration and realize that -- trying to get some more depth," Matheny said. "Also trying to get some more traffic for the guys that can drive in runs. Shane has been doing a nice job of taking good at-bats. Gives him an opportunity with [Matt Carpenter] to really set the table and lengthen out our lineup through the middle.''

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Shane Victorino's back strain is much improved and he will be available off the bench in Game 5, but there were still questions about how long he could go if he started, so he's not in the lineup.

Just as in Game 4, Jonny Gomes will start in left field while Daniel Nava will be in Victorino's normal spot in right field. Farrell said he expects Victorino to be able to start Game 6 in Boston.

Farrell also made a small but significant change to his batting order, sliding Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Gomes up one spot in the order, with Nava dropping from second to fifth. Farrell said he did so to "lengthen" the lineup behind Ortiz, who is batting .727 (8-for-11) in the Series and has reached base safely seven consecutive times. His on-base average is .750.

As for his bullpen for Game 5, Farrell said Game 3 starter Jake Peavy will be available and that he would turn to left-hander Felix Doubront, who has pitched in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011, "only in an emergency."

Left-hander Craig Breslow, who has retired only one of seven batters he has faced in the World Series (the out came on a sacrifice fly), looks "a little bit tentative -- he hasn't settled in against their lineup," Farrell said. "He doesn't have the same familiarity with them as he does with the American League lineups."

In something of a surprise, Farrell said Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz came to him Monday and volunteered to pitch out of the pen when the Series returns to Boston on Wednesday. Game 2 starter John Lackey did the same thing last week, Farrell said, and pitched a scoreless eighth inning Sunday night.

"The way [Buchholz] came out of [Sunday's start], he told me last night he would be in here [Monday] to get ready for another opportunity," Farrell said. "By no means has he shut down anything physically or mentally.

"When he came back to the dugout after the second inning, he said, 'I haven't even tried to throw the ball hard yet,'" Farrell said. "I said, 'Based on what's happened, you don't need to.' He has such feel and can manipulate the ball, even when he's lacking power, his cutter and two-seamer are very effective."

Asked about his rotation plans, Farrell said that as far as Peavy starting Game 7, "everything points to that right now," but added, "Everybody's available in Game 7."

Farrell praised Doubront for his work the past two nights, "especially in this environment, his poise and control, and the way he attacked the strike zone."

Doubront would appear to loom as a potential option in the event Farrell elects not to start Peavy in Game 7, especially since the Cardinals hit right-handers significantly better (.278/.340/.413/.753) than left-handers (.242/.309/.366/.675) in the regular season. However, the Cardinals routed one of baseball's best pitchers, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 9-0 in the deciding game of the National League Championship Series.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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