NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Harvey walked from the mound to the dugout and raised his glove with his pitching hand, acknowledging fans chanting his name.
At least for a night, The Dark Knight returned.
“I obviously have one less rib, but I feel strong and ready to go,” Harvey said after leading the New York Mets over the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Thursday in his return from major surgery.
Harvey (1-0) won for the first time since May 30. In his previous appearance on July 4, he was chased by Miami in the fourth inning and stared at the field from the dugout, a white towel draped over his left shoulder, a despondent look on his face.
“I remember getting booed off the field last year, so I think kind of flipping that switch a little bit and keep moving forward,” he said. “It was exciting.”
Travis d’Arnaud hit a go-ahead, two-run double and Wilmer Flores a two-run homer against Jaime Garcia (0-1), who made his Atlanta debut after eight seasons with St. Louis.
A year after helping the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 2000, Harvey struggled to a 4-10 record with a 4.86 ERA in 2016. He felt numbness in his fingertips against the Marlins and did not pitch again, undergoing surgery July 18 to correct a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome injury caused by the compression of nerves, blood vessels or both in the area between the neck and armpit.
Harvey was 0-4 with a 5.89 ERA in five spring training starts. The 28-year-old right-hander’s fastball was consistently in the 93-94 mph range — even reaching 96 mph — and he needed six pitches to get through the first inning, eight in the second, 10 in the third and 11 in the fourth.
“You’re going to look hopefully in the middle of the summer and he’s going to be back to where he was,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Now, is he going to be throwing 98 again? I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball. But I think Matt Harvey can pitch as good as anybody when he’s at 93 to 95, and he showed it tonight.”
With the Mets in Harvey’s favored blue jerseys for the first time this season, he allowed three hits in 6 2/3 innings, leaving after Matt Kemp’s second solo home run. Harvey threw 55 of 73 pitches for strikes, fanned four and walked none in a game that breezed by in 2 hours, 28 minutes.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 4
ST. LOUIS — In a most sticky situation, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina couldn’t find a ball that clung to his chest protector and the Chicago Cubs turned the bizarre play into a late rally.
The Cardinals led 4-2 in the seventh inning when things became kooky at Busch Stadium.
Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur led off by striking out on a pitch from Brett Cecil that skipped in the dirt. The ball bounced into Molina’s protector and appeared to get trapped by a sticky substance.
Molina kept looking around for the ball, and didn’t find it until Szczur safely made it to first base. The Gold Glove catcher could only smile and fans in sellout crowd laughed — really, who’d ever seen such a thing?
Catchers sometimes put pine tar somewhere on their uniforms, often around the shin guards, to help give them a better grip.
Once Szczur reached on what was scored as a wild pitch, the Cardinals lost their grip on this game.
Reds 7, Phillies 4
CINCINNATI — Relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen connected for a pinch-hit homer that put Cincinnati ahead and the Reds overcame a rough major league debut by Rookie Davis to beat Philadelphia.
Adam Duvall also homered as the Reds rallied from an early three-run deficit to take the opening series, winning two of three.
Lorenzen’s solo homer — the second of his career — off Adam Morgan (0-1) put the Reds ahead 5-4 in the sixth inning. Manager Bryan Price used the reliever because he’s working with a short-handed bench.
Dodgers 10, Padres 2
LOS ANGELES — Yasiel Puig homered twice to help Los Angeles rout San Diego.
Puig was 2 for 3 with two walks, two runs, four RBIs and a stolen base.
Puig hit a two-run homer to left off the first pitch from Jered Weaver (0-1) in the second inning. The Cuban star homered off Weaver again in his next at-bat in the fourth inning, belting another two-run shot to left field to give the Dodgers a four-run lead.
Brandon McCarthy (1-0) allowed just two runs on four hits in six innings.
Twins 5, Royals 3
MINNEAPOLIS — Jason Castro and Jorge Polanco hit consecutive RBI doubles in the seventh inning, and Minnesota dented Kansas City’s bullpen again to sweep the season-opening series.
After dropping their first nine games last season on the way to a major league-most 103 losses, the Twins are 3-0 for the first time since 2007. The Royals have their first 0-3 start since 2001.
Marlins 4, Nationals 3, 10 Innings
WASHINGTON — Justin Bour doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 10th inning after the Marlins erased two leads against a shaky Nationals bullpen, and Miami earned its first win of the season.
In a game delayed by rain for more than an hour both at the start and in the middle of the sixth, Bour sent a shot off Joe Blanton (0-1) down the left field line. That brought home J.T. Realmuto, whose single in the 10th was his third hit of the game, including a two-run homer in the eighth that made it 2-all.
Blue Jays 5, Rays 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Kendrys Morales hit his fourth career grand slam, Marcus Stroman pitched 6 1/3 effective innings and Toronto beat Tampa Bay.
Morales homered off Blake Snell (0-1) in the third. Stroman (1-0), the MVP of last month’s World Baseball Classic, allowed one run and six hits in his 2017 debut.
Snell gave up five runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. The lefty struck out five and walked five.
Rockies 2, Brewers 1
MILWAUKEE — Nolan Arenado and Mark Reynolds homered and Antonio Senzatela pitched five strong innings in his major league debut to help Colorado beat Milwaukee.
Arenado homered off Neftali Feliz (0-1) leading off the ninth. Former Brewer Reynolds led off the third against starter Chase Anderson with his second home run of the season.
The Rockies won three of four games in the season-opening series.
White Sox 11, Tigers 2
CHICAGO — Matt Davidson had his first career triple and first home run with Chicago.
Geovany Soto, the catcher who joined the White Sox as a free agent this offseason, added his first two home runs for Chicago to help give Rick Renteria his first victory as the team’s manager.
James Shields (1-0) threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and striking out five. Shields allowed Tyler Collins’ solo homer in the second inning to open the scoring, but the Tigers managed only four hits.
Athletics 5, Angels 1
OAKLAND, Calif. — Andrew Triggs pitched into the sixth inning for his second major league win, Ryon Healy homered to cap a four-run third and Oakland beat Los Angeles for an opening four-game split.