Righthander Joe Kelly admitted to being a little “rusty” when, in the Cardinals’ seventh spring game, he finally made an appearance, his first since Game 7 of the National League championship series last October.

While Kelly relieved in that game, which the Cardinals lost 9-0 at San Francisco, he started Friday against the Houston Astros.

Kelly threw a high total of 16 balls out of 30 pitches but worked around the two walks he issued in two scoreless innings on the front end of a long day of baseball in which the Cardinals and Houston Astros fought to an 8-8 tie.

“I kind of forgot when was the last time I threw,” said Kelly. “For the past three days, I was getting reminded by everyone in the clubhouse, ‘Dude, are you ever going to play? Are you ever going to pitch? Or what?’

“I think that made me even more anxious to get out there. I was one of the last guys to even throw (batting practice). But, yeah, it was good to get out there.

“I was not too happy about my walks. I felt just a tad bit rusty, but I got my ground balls when I needed to. Even though I was throwing my curve for balls, it felt real sharp.”