Chris Carpenter was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Friday and made his season debut in the Cincinnati Reds' 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Carpenter hadn't appeared on a big-league mound since winning Game 7 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers last October. The veteran right-hander wasn't expected to pitch this season after shoulder issues led to a surgical procedure in July.
Instead, Carpenter held the Cubs to a pair of runs over five innings in his return. He threw 77 pitches and left with a 3-2 lead.
The Cubs, though, sent the game into extra innings when Darwin Barney hit a two-out, two-run homer off Fernando Salas in the bottom of the ninth. In the 11th, David DeJesus ripped a game-winning RBI single through the right side of the infield.
Carpenter, who went 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA last season, returned with his team in the midst of another playoff push, as the Cardinals hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL's final wild card spot.
The 37-year-old veteran has posted a 144-92 record with a 3.76 ERA over 348 games -- 330 starts -- with the Toronto Blue Jays and Cardinals.
To open a spot on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals outrighted the contract of pitcher John Gaub to Triple-A Memphis.