ST. LOUIS (AP) — Yadier Molina returned from a 40-game absence and guided Shelby Miller through seven innings. There was no helping fellow All-Star Pat Neshek.
"We've all been there. You're kind of down in the dumps, but it's part of the game," Neshek said after a rare rough outing in the St. Louis Cardinals' 7-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. "It's how you rebound. It's a long season."
Jorge Soler homered for the second straight at-bat and fellow rookie Javier Baez had a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth inning off Neshek.
Neshek (6-1) led NL relievers with an 0.81 ERA entering the game and exited with a 1.45 ERA after giving up four runs, matching his career worst, while getting only two outs. It was 2-all when he came in to begin the eighth, and he gave up hits to the first three batters.
"Soler got me really good," Neshek said. "It was interesting because he's never seen me before and he was hacking like that. Yeah, I missed that pitch really bad."
Neshek had allowed five earned runs this season, and no more than one in a game, prior to Friday night.
Molina had been out since July 9 because of a torn ligament in his right thumb, and went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch.
The crowd at Busch Stadium gave Molina a standing ovation when he walked in from the bullpen after pregame warmups, and another cheer before he batted in the first inning.
"I love watching him behind the plate, the little things he does all the time," manager Mike Matheny said. "He changed the course with Shelby right in mid-stream and helped him get back on track and really helped maximized his stuff."
Miller allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings.
"The toughest thing about it was giving up a homer in the seventh," Miller said. "I thought it gave them a little momentum."
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