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In front of large contingent, Richards solid in loss

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

ST. LOUIS -- For the first time since late April, Trevor Richards is back in the big leagues, and the rookie had a nice support group in the stands on Thursday at Busch Stadium.

Richards did his part to put on a good show, making a solid return, but the rookie right-hander surrendered a two-run first-inning homer to Jose Martinez, and the Marlins were unable to rally in a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals. Miami took two of three in the series and went 3-7 on the road trip.

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ST. LOUIS -- For the first time since late April, Trevor Richards is back in the big leagues, and the rookie had a nice support group in the stands on Thursday at Busch Stadium.

Richards did his part to put on a good show, making a solid return, but the rookie right-hander surrendered a two-run first-inning homer to Jose Martinez, and the Marlins were unable to rally in a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals. Miami took two of three in the series and went 3-7 on the road trip.

View Full Game Coverage

Recalled from Triple-A New Orleans with Tyler Cloyd optioned to the Baby Cakes, Richards gave up three runs in five-plus innings in his sixth big league start.

Video: MIA@STL: Marlins on Richards' outing vs St. Louis

A native of Aviston, Ill., Richards had his personal cheering section, with about 100 family and friends in attendance.

"Being in St. Louis and having family and friends come and see, it was just excitement," Richards said. "I would say the jitters were gone, just excitement.

"I don't know a number on how many, but quite a bit. Obviously, when I came out of the game, to hear the crowd, that was pretty cool. That was quite the experience there. I'm sure there were a lot."

The 25-year-old faced St. Louis for the first time in his big league career, but he actually played in an All-Star Game at Busch Stadium when he was in high school, which is less than an hour drive from the city.

"As a kid, we came to a lot of Cardinals games," Richards said. "It's really cool to play here. I got to pitch here once in high school, in an All-Star Game. It's not my first time on the mound here, but a different atmosphere this time around."

Video: MIA@STL: Richards' family cheers him on in St. Louis

The Marlins promoted Richards to slide into the rotation spot that was held by rookie Elieser Hernandez, who is now pitching in relief. Richards saw his first big league action since striking out 10 Dodgers over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision on April 25 at Dodger Stadium.

Richards recorded four strikeouts and no walks on a hot Thursday afternoon. A strike-thrower who mixes a plus-changeup to offset his 90-92 mph fastball, the rookie got 10 swinging strikes on his 83 pitches. Of his 15 changeups, he induced five swinging strikes.

After surrendering the first-inning home run to Martinez, Richards settled down and permitted three baserunners over the next four frames.

"That home run, I left one over the middle and he made me pay for it," Richards said. "After that, I was just trying to settle in. They're a good hitting team. They like the ball in on them. We were trying to work away and mix up speeds."

Video: MIA@STL: Martinez clubs a 2-run homer in the 1st

Miami collected a couple of first-inning singles off Miles Mikolas, who then retired the next 14 he faced. The Marlins broke through off the right-hander for an unearned run, which scored on Justin Bour's two-out double in the sixth.

Video: MIA@STL: Bour drives in Castro on a double

The Cardinals were able to pad their lead in the bottom half of the inning as Richards began to show fatigue. Tommy Pham and Martinez opened with singles, and the rookie was lifted with runners at the corners. Marcell Ozuna delivered an RBI single off Brad Ziegler, making it 3-1.

Video: MIA@STL: Ozuna drives in a run with single to left

Luke Voit added a pinch-hit home run for the Cardinals off Adam Conley in the seventh inning, which put Miami in a three-run hole.

"We knew Zieg wasn't going to pitch in that inning unless they let the pitcher hit," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of going to Conley. "These two guys worked for him. It was late in the game and you could do it. Still, we felt we could keep it right there with the two lefties and then go right back to the righty."

Video: MIA@STL: Voit crushes a homer to left in the 7th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ben Meyer, called up from New Orleans on Wednesday, made his Major League debut on Thursday in the seventh inning, inheriting Matt Carpenter on first base. The right-hander was asked to settle things two batters after Voit's home run off Conley. The first batter Meyer faced was Pham, who lifted a routine lineout to center.

Video: MIA@CIN: Meyer gets Pham to fly out in MLB debut

Jedd Gyorko then tapped a fielder's choice grounder to third base, bringing up Ozuna with a man on first. Ozuna crushed a liner to deep center that was run down by Lewis Brinson, whose momentum carried him into the wall.

"I was kind of nervous the whole game every time the [bullpen] phone rang," Meyer said. "But I get nervous for every game. Once I started throwing to the catcher, you kind of get in that zone and everything takes care of itself."

Video: MIA@STL: Brinson robs Ozuna for final out in the 7th

SOUND SMART
Bryan Holaday, getting the matinee start in place of J.T. Realmuto, has been tough to steal against. Kolten Wong found that out in the third inning when he singled and attempted to swipe second. Holaday's throw was on the money to Starlin Castro, who applied the tag for the third out. That's now eight straight Holaday has thrown out trying to steal.

Video: MIA@STL: Holaday catches Wong stealing second base

HE SAID IT
"Any time we can win a game right now feels good. We struggled on this trip. At this park, we put a couple together. Hopefully, [winning the series] helps us pick up momentum. We talk about trying to win series and playing that style of baseball. It's a start. We were able to put two together and take a series. We start tomorrow with San Diego. They beat us three out of four out there. So we get them to come to our place. We see the same pitchers, so we'll see."
-- Mattingly, on winning two of three at St. Louis before returning home

UP NEXT
The Marlins open their 25th Anniversary Weekend series against the Padres at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday at Marlins Park. Caleb Smith gets the nod for Miami. The left-hander has a strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate of 11.0, and 4.2 walks per nine. Opponents are batting .101 off Smith's slider, which is the second best among all qualifying starters, according to Inside Edge. The league average is .203. San Diego will go with lefty Eric Lauer.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Trevor Richards