ST. LOUIS -- A pal of singer/musician Eddie Vedder's and devotee of Pearl Jam, Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo noted after he made the club that his favorite band always plays two encores in its concerts.
Arroyo's first encore, or comeback, never got off the ground with the Nationals last season. But his second attempt back from 2014 elbow and shoulder surgeries culminated in his Saturday start vs. the Cardinals. It did not bring the house down, however, as Arroyo lasted four innings during a 10-4 Reds loss at Busch Stadium.
"It felt like I hadn't really left the mound," Arroyo said. "You still get those same feelings. Good crowd here in St. Louis; it's always loud. It's always a tough place to pitch. It was a battle. It was a grind, man. I didn't get deep enough in the ballgame to really make a difference. But I felt OK."
Arroyo, 40, gave up six earned runs and six hits, with three walks and three strikeouts. He was burned by two home runs -- both by Aledmys Diaz.
Arroyo's gap of 3 yrs, 192 days b/w appearances with the Reds is the longest since LHP Chris Hammond's 13 yrs, 184 days (1992-2006). (Elias) pic.twitter.com/x2VqbpPcXD
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Arroyo became the first Reds pitcher to start a game at age 40 since 1945, when 46-year-old Hod Lisenbee and 40-year-old Boom-Boom Beck faced the Cubs on consecutive days (June 8 and 9).
Arroyo was with the Reds from 2006-13 and last pitched in the Majors for the D-backs on June 15, 2014, before having Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He also needed shoulder surgery that year.
"I wasn't really that much more amped up than I ever am," Arroyo said. "There's just no way around it when you're a Major League pitcher, especially a starter. The day you start is a miserable day until you throw that first pitch. I got those same feelings today."
The game started in rocky fashion when Diaz -- Arroyo's second batter -- slugged a 1-0 pitch for a homer to left field. It was 2-1 in the fourth inning and Arroyo was one out away from getting out of the inning when opposing pitcher Michael Wacha hit an RBI double up the middle. After a walk to Dexter Fowler, Diaz returned and hit a three-run homer on a 2-2 breaking ball to make it 6-1.
"I opened up a can of worms there. I just couldn't put the lid back on, and Diaz hurt me twice," Arroyo said. "Both of them were probably the worst pitches I threw all day."
Arroyo, who earned his spot after being a non-roster invite in camp, will get more chances to tune his performance and make better music on the mound. His fastball velocity topped out at 86 mph, consistent with what he did in the spring.
"There's no reason to provide him this opportunity if we weren't going to let him come in and compete for a job, and if he won the job, to go out there and pitch," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "This is Game 1 after 2 1/2 years of not being in this environment. "
Despite not having a great outing, Arroyo still felt proud of returning to the Majors.
"To grind back at my age after almost three years, to stand on that mound was an accomplishment, at least for me personally," he said. "It was a victory to get out there and throw that first pitch. The good thing is I can take from it that I felt pretty normal out there. You saw guys swing at your good pitches and miss them, and you saw them swing at your bad pitches and hit them hard, which is what they've done for 20 years against me."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.