Cordero records 30th save for 7th time

Published 9:19 am Monday, September 5, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Francisco Cordero had to work for this milestone save, recording three quick groundouts against the heart of the St. Louis Cardinals’ order.

The veteran closer reached 30 saves for the seventh time when he finished the Cincinnati Reds’ 3-2 victory Sunday. He is 30 for 35 this year and has converted 13 consecutive opportunities since the All-Star break.

The right-hander’s 320th save broke a tie with Todd Jones for 14th on the career list, and he’s one behind Jose Mesa, the leader from the Dominican Republic. He’s jumped ahead of 10 relievers this season.

Email newsletter signup

“I think he’s still relatively obscure and overlooked in the overall scheme of things,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Every day I’m giving him my lineup card because he’s passing somebody.

“He’s had a heck of a career and he’s still throwing well.”

The 36-year-old Cordero has allowed only three runs in 21 innings since the break.

“It means a lot, it shows me I’m doing my job,” Cordero said of getting 30 saves. “At the end of the season when I go home and look at my numbers I’ll say I did it again.”

Rookie Juan Francisco capped a career-best four-hit day with the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning and Edgar Renteria hit a two-run homer in the first for the Reds, who won for only the second time in their last eight games. The Reds took two of three from a team desperately trying to stay in contention, winning a series in St. Louis for the first time since June 5-7, 2006.

“I love the way the Cardinals play every day, they play the right way, they do every little thing,” Cordero said. “But we played pretty good against them.”

Jon Jay homered and Daniel Descalso had an RBI triple for the Cardinals, who fell 9 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee heading into a three-game series with the Brewers starting Monday night. St. Louis was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 20 with men on base.

Three straight Reds reached with two outs in the 10th against Fernando Salas (5-6) and pinch-runner Chris Valaika scored easily from second on Francisco’s single to center.

Cincinnati reliever Bill Bray (5-2) got pinch-hitter David Freese to fly out with a runner on second to end the ninth.

Bronson Arroyo pitched eight innings, matching his season best. He held St. Louis to two runs despite allowing 10 hits.

Jay’s drive was the 37th allowed by Arroyo, extending his franchise record for a right-hander, but he didn’t allow a runner in scoring position his last four innings. He’s 1-5 in his last 12 starts since June 24.

Edwin Jackson struck out eight in seven innings in his best outing since joining the Cardinals at the trade deadline. He trailed 2-0 after the first two hitters but worked six straight scoreless innings after that and is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA his last three starts.

Brandon Phillips opened the game with a single and Renteria followed with his fifth homer before Jackson retired the next three in order.

Renteria struck out with the bases loaded to end the second. Cincinnati also left two on in the sixth and eighth and another scoring opportunity was squandered in the fourth when catcher Gerald Laird reacted quickly on a pitch in the dirt, recovering it several feet away and throwing to Jackson to catch Francisco trying to score.

Jay hit his ninth homer with one out in the first and Descalso’s triple tied it in the fourth.

The first hit with runners in scoring position by either team was Francisco’s squibber off the end of the bat just out of the reach of Descalso at third and reliever Mark Rzepczynski to put runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth. Octavio Dotel got Ryan Hanigan to ground out to end the threat.

NOTES: Reds pitcher Dontrelle Willis (0-4, 4.10 ERA) makes his 200th career start Monday at Chicago against Matt Garza (7-10, 3.64 ERA). … Jake Westbrook (11-7, 4.72) opposes the Brewers’ Randy Wolf (11-9, 3.58) in the opener of a three-game series between the NL Central’s top two teams. … Reds 1B Joey Votto was 0 for 5 for only the fifth time in his career. … Renteria is batting .314 (11 for 35) against the Cardinals and .240 against the rest of the NL. Renteria did strike out three times for the first time since July 26, 2010, against Florida.