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05/16/10 12:30 AM ET

Reds right at home on game-ending play

Perfect relay cuts down tying run in Civil Rights Game

CINCINNATI -- Reds closer Francisco Cordero could only smile with relief after an ending like that.

Cordero's 12th save of the season definitely came the hard way in a 4-3 win over the Cardinals on Saturday night in the Gillette Civil Rights Game. It took a relay throw to the plate to get Skip Schumaker for the third out and game-ender in the top of the ninth.

"I don't call that a save," Cordero said. "All that matters is we got the 'W.' When playing the Cardinals, the game is not over until it's over. They've got a great team. I don't want it like that, but [I'll take them] anyway they come. In the end, we got to go home happy."

Pitching for the first time in five days, Cordero was handed a two-run lead in the top of the ninth when things got hairy. David Freese led off with a single on the ground to center field and went to second base on a wild pitch. Schumaker's one-out single through the middle scored Freese and made it a one-run game.

After pinch-hitter Jon Jay struck out, pinch-hitter Joe Mather laced a double to the wall in left field, where the ball died. Chris Heisey, who came in on a double-switch to begin the ninth, had to retrieve it quickly.

"I was waiting for it to bounce off, and it kind of hit the pad and didn't come back at all. It sat there at the base of the fence," Heisey said. "I had to kind of get my feet going again towards the wall. I just picked it up and got rid of it as quick as I could."

Heisey fired a throw to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who was the cutoff man.

"My throw was a little bit wide," Heisey said. "Cabrera did a great job of getting his feet underneath it, catching it and letting it go."

Schumaker was running full speed on contact from first base and was waved around all the way by Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo. Cabrera's throw was an offline one-hopper to the left of the plate, but catcher Ramon Hernandez did a great job of reaching to apply the tag as Schumaker slid. Home-plate umpire Rob Drake called him out with no hesitation.

"I knew it was going to be bang-bang," Schumaker said. "Joe hit it hard. I was assuming they were in 'no-doubles' in the outfield. Hernandez made a good play. The throw was a little off line, and he made a really good play. "

Hernandez pumped his first, and the Reds walked off the field celebrating their sixth win in seven games, moving them to a half-game behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central.

"It was awesome when he called him out at home," Heisey said.

"That's the importance of defense," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what you practice all the time -- cutoffs and relays at Spring Training. That was a perfectly executed cutoff and relay, especially when that ball didn't bounce back. It stuck underneath. You knew it'd be close at the plate when it did that. Heisey made a great throw to Orlando. Orlando made a great throw to Ramon. Ramon had to pick that ball and then tag him. It was a tough play."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.