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07/22/08 12:03 AM ET
Reds 'pen can't contain Padres
Cordero gives up three runs in relief; Griffey hits No. 606
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The difference between the Reds being 5-0 coming out of the All-Star break and 2-3 is almost razor thin. But it's within that gap where the legitimately good teams separate themselves. The Reds just split four games against baseball's hottest team, the Mets, and felt good despite knowing they could have gotten a sweep. It should have been enough momentum to handle baseball's coldest team, the Padres, the owners of the league's worst record. Instead, Cincinnati gave another win away in a 6-4 loss to San Diego on Monday, snapping the Padres' six-game losing streak. Closer Francisco Cordero, given a 4-3 lead to start the ninth, gave up three runs for the loss. That's two blown saves and two losses in four games for Cordero (4-3) and six blown saves for the season. On Thursday vs. New York, he allowed four ninth-inning runs and six hits for the loss. "The last three outings, I gave up about seven runs. That's not what I was brought up here to do," said Cordero, who has 20 saves for the season. "I was brought here to do a job -- to get the last three outs. That's not been the case. I've been pitching in the ninth inning with a lot of trouble. I'll get to the last inning, give up a run or get two men on base. I can't be pitching like that. I've got to do a better job and do better than that. It's not my style and that's not me." Cordero issued a one-out walk and a single that put runners on the corners. Brian Giles chopped a ground ball, but Cordero and first baseman Joey Votto collided trying to field it as Scott Hairston scored the tying run. Following an Adrian Gonzalez intentional walk, Kevin Kouzmanoff's two-run double to right field sealed the game. Cordero was lifted after giving up his third walk of the inning to Jody Gerut. "Oh boy, that was a tough one right there," manager Dusty Baker said. "You hate to see Coco struggle like that." The Reds had a chance to get the game back in the bottom of the ninth against San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman. But after loading the bases with no outs on three singles, Hoffman sandwiched a foul pop to the catcher by pinch-hitter Javier Valentin in between strikeouts by David Ross and Jay Bruce. "We didn't get any," Baker said. "We fought back and had a chance to do to him what they did to Coco. It got away." Cordero cost Reds starter Homer Bailey a chance at getting a win following a decent performance. Whether it's been at Triple-A Louisville or in five starts this season in the Majors, Bailey is winless since April 30. Things seemed poised to turn around Monday after he worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts. "It's just no luck," Bailey said. San Diego took a 2-0 first-inning lead on Bailey aided by three straight one-out hits. After Adrian Gonzalez's RBI double to right field scored Edgar Gonzalez, a Kouzmanoff sacrifice fly brought home Giles. Bailey responded with a six-pitch, perfect second inning and recovered nicely. In a difficult situation, Bailey worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the fifth. He won a hard-fought, eight-pitch battle with Giles by getting a popup before Gonzalez struck out on an 88-mph fastball. For Bailey, who came in 0-3 with a 7.00 ERA this season, it was encouraging. "I just kept telling myself, 'Keep making your pitches,'" Bailey said. "'If you make pitches, good things will happen. Forget you have guys on. Pitch like no one is on and you have a five-run lead.'" He could possibly have had just that if not for a baserunning gaffe in the Reds' fifth with the game tied at 2. Bailey's double gave the Reds runners on second and third and one out, but it was wasted. As Bruce hit a grounder to first base, Edgar Gonzalez fired to third base, where Ross drifted too far from the bag. Ross was tagged out before Bailey was caught in a rundown and tagged between second and third for a 3-5-6 double play. "That was a double play I've never seen before," Baker said. "Those were two big runs right there. We're just kind of giving away these games." It was still tied when Ken Griffey Jr. hit a two-run homer into first row of the right-field seats. It was Griffey's 13th of the season and No. 606 for his career. Bailey gave up Hairston's solo homer in the seventh but was in line for the win. Now five games under .500 at 48-53, Cincinnati has a supreme chance to do something. The club is in a stretch where it plays 19 of the next 22 games vs. sub-.500 opponents. However, the Reds are now 16-24 vs. losing teams compared to 32-29 vs. clubs with winning records. "When they're down, you have to keep them down," Baker said before Monday's game.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.