SAN FRANCISCO -- In the immediate aftermath of Monday's fateful play, Matt Holliday tried to check in on a player he admires.

"Are you OK?'' Holliday asked Marco Scutaro.

But there was no reply. Scutaro was in too much pain. Instead, the only response Holliday got came from a sellout crowd at AT&T Park, which booed Holliday loudly for the hard slide that injured the Giants second baseman.

Holliday's slide was too late, by his own admission, but he stressed that there was no ill intent.

"I'm not a dirty player,'' the six-time All-Star said.

During a subdued, even-voiced session at his locker after the Giants' 7-1 victory in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, Holliday explained that he was playing with the hard-nose style expected with a trip to the World Series at stake.

He was on first base with Carlos Beltran on second when Allen Craig hit a slow grounder to shortstop. Shortstop Brandon Crawford threw the ball to Scutaro at the second-base bag, Holliday — a 6-4, 235-pound former high school quarterback — slid past the bag and crashed into Scutaro's lower body.

Holliday succeeded his mission: The Cardinals avoided the double play as umpires ruled Craig safe at first.

But the play sent the 185-second baseman crumpling to the ground in agony.

"In hindsight, I wish I would have started my slide a step earlier,'' Holliday said. "It was happening fast and you're trying to get to him so he can't turn the double play.

"Obviously, I hope he's OK. I know him. He's a good guy."

Scutaro got a measure of revenge later, drilling a bases-loaded single as the Giants seized control of the game during a four-run fourth inning. (Holliday, in left field, misplayed Scutaro's ball for an error.)

By the sixth, though, Scutaro departed with a left-hip injury. Holliday tipped his cap that the second baseman was able to stay in the game long enough to make a major contribution.

"It doesn't surprise me at all. He's a great player,'' Holliday said. "He's had an unbelievable second half and come up with some huge hits for them. I'm not surprised at all."

A few lockers down from Holliday, Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso responded to a question about the hard slide by pointing to a reddish bruise above his right ankle. It was a souvenir from Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals, who came charging hard into second base during the N.L. Division Series.

It's an occupational hazard, Descalso said.

"On a slow hit ball, if you hang in there, that's the risk you're willing to take trying to get the out for the double play,'' the former St. Francis High (Mountain View) standout explained.

"There are guys in this league who take pride in breaking up double plays. Holliday is one of them. ... With first and second and one out, if you can get a guy to throw the ball away, that's a run for us. And in a close game that can be the difference between in a win and a loss.

"You don't want to see anyone get hurt, but I'm all for playing the game hard. And if you play the game hard, those things are going to happen

Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com