ST. LOUIS (AP) – Homer Bailey may not be at 100 percent just yet, but he was at least happy to be back on the mound.
The Cincinnati right-hander made his season debut following surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, pitching into the sixth inning Saturday as the Reds lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2.
Bailey gave up five runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.
“Early on, I thought I made some pretty good pitches that got hit,” he said. “They put some pretty good swings on them.”
Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said Bailey is “right where he needs to be” at this point in his comeback effort.
“It was his first game out and I wanted to see him throw six innings and be competitive,” Price said. “A fairly good first outing. He certainly wasn’t overpowering and we don’t expect to be overpowering for a while.”
“I thought he managed the zone well with his stuff. He had a nice mix of off-speed pitches,” he said.
Bailey (0-1) gave up a third-inning homer to Jason Heyward and a two-run double to Matt Carpenter in the sixth that signaled the end of his 92-pitch stint.
“We just need to sharpen things up a bit,” Bailey said.
Price agreed, saying “his best days are still a little ways ahead of him.”
Zack Cozart homered for the Reds, who have lost three in a row and six of seven.
Cincinnati speedster Billy Hamilton left in the eighth inning after beating out an infield single. He is day-to-day with irritation in his right groin, Price said.
Carlos Martinez (1-0) gave up one run on three hits, striking out four and walking two.
Trevor Rosenthal picked up his fourth save in as many opportunities. He struck out Joey Votto with two on to end the game, giving St. Louis its fourth straight win.
Carpenter, who has six successive multihit games, improved to 17-for-29 (.586) lifetime against Bailey. His two-run double in the sixth pushed the lead to 5-1 and chased Bailey.
Matt Adams put St. Louis in front with an RBI single in the first. He drove in Matt Holliday, who doubled with two out.
Holliday left the game after scoring with stiffness in his back. He has hit safely in all 10 games this season.
Heyward, acquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta, homered in the third. Yadier Molina made it 3-0 with a run-scoring double in the fourth.
Cozart, who had three hits, pushed his hitting streak to seven games. Jhonny Peralta of the Cardinals had a nine-game hitting streak snapped.
Reds: Bailey came off the disabled list for the start. RHP Pedro Villarreal was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia threw to hitters on Friday at extended spring training. General manager John Mozeliak indicated that Garcia is still about six weeks away from returning to the roster.
Reds: RHP Mike Leake (0-0, 4.97) will make his 150th career appearance in the final game of the three-game series Sunday night. He has four career home runs and led NL pitchers in batting average in 2010 (.356) and 2012 (.305).
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (1-1, 2.08) will make his third start of the season. He has not allowed an earned run in his last 17 innings against the Reds.