Ohlendorf (0-1) allowed just one run in four innings but took the loss as the Pirates were edged 2-1 by the visiting Reds. He gave up three hits, walked four and struck out three.
Ohlendorf, though, did not feel any back pain during his start. He had been on the disabled list since April 8, one day after making his first start of the season, because of back spasms.
"It's hard to say I'm happy, because we lost, but I am happy that I feel fine physically," Ohlendorf said. "I felt very strong, and I really believe the whole issue with the back is behind me now."
Ohlendorf was the Pirates' most consistent starter in the second half of last season, going 4-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 11 starts in his first full year in a major league rotation. The Pirates are hopeful he can build on that strong finish this season despite having his season interrupted early with the DL stint.
"If we could get Ross back healthy and pitching the way he did in the second half of last season, that would be huge for us," said Pirates manager John Russell, whose team's 5.72 ERA is the worst in the major leagues. "We've really missed him. He's a good major league starting pitcher that usually gives you a chance to win, and he's also a good teammate, one of the most popular guys in the clubhouse. We've missed him."