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Pham homers, reaches base 5 times in return

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- By his own estimation, Tommy Pham took about 300 swings to prepare for his return to the Cardinals' lineup. All that work, paired with a little rest, appeared to have done him some good.

Pham reached base five times in his first game back from a minor right groin injury, as he went 3-for-3 with two walks in the Cards' 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Mets on Tuesday.

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ST. LOUIS -- By his own estimation, Tommy Pham took about 300 swings to prepare for his return to the Cardinals' lineup. All that work, paired with a little rest, appeared to have done him some good.

Pham reached base five times in his first game back from a minor right groin injury, as he went 3-for-3 with two walks in the Cards' 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Mets on Tuesday.

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Pham hit a two-run home run in the first, then later walked and singled off Mets starter Zack Wheeler. He walked again in the sixth against Matt Harvey, and he singled off Paul Sewald in the ninth.

"That was pretty impressive," manager Mike Matheny said. "I didn't think the first one was hit high enough to get out. Then, good at-bats with the walks. It was good to give him a couple of days and still get production from some of the other guys. Then, he jumps back in and doesn't have his timing off at all."

Sidelined for three of the previous four games, Pham initially felt tightness in his right groin late in a cold-weather win in Chicago last week. The center fielder passed a series of tests the day after, and it did not require an MRI. Though the Cardinals and Pham both said he could've played through the injury, they decided to be cautious.

Pham pinch-hit last Thursday, then started Friday's win against the Reds. Pham did not appear in the club's final two games against Cincinnati this past weekend, after which, his preparation to return began.

Coming off a breakout 2017 season, Pham has again been one of the Cardinals' most complete players. He is hitting .348 with 24 hits in 20 games and leading St. Louis in batting average, runs (19), stolen bases (five), on-base percentage (.477), walk rate and Wins Above Replacement.

"He always had something to prove," Matheny said before the game. "We learned that all winter. He did some things really well [last year], and it wasn't enough. I know he's not surprised that he's gotten off to this start. It's exactly what he expects from himself."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Tommy Pham