Chris Carpenter back on the mound this Friday for the first time since the World Series. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Chris Carpenter has been cleared to return to the mound and the Cardinals will give Carpenter his first start of 2012 on Friday, when the Cardinals open their final road trip in Chicago.  Manager Mike Matheny made the announcement yesterday after Carpenter threw 95 pitches in his fourth simulated game, Sunday, since returning from July thoracic outlet surgery. Once Carpenter reported no unusual soreness the day after, the decision was made.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Carpenter said. “We’ve worked hard to get back and be able to do this. Like we’ve said all along, we weren’t expecting it, but I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and competing.”

The Cardinals face the Houston Astros for three games before Carp’s start. Kyle Lohse will start tonight, followed by Lance Lynn who fills in for injured Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia finishes the series.

Carpenter last faced opposing hitters nearly 11 months ago in game seven against the Texas Rangers.