MILWAUKEE (AP) - Suddenly, closer Francisco Cordero is struggling - the latest in a series of setbacks for the Cincinnati Reds.
Cordero allowed another late rally on Sunday, and the defending NL Central champions entered the All-Star break with a rough 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cordero also gave away the game Friday night against the Brewers, his former team.
``I'm not doing my job right now,' Cordero said. ``It doesn't feel good. If I still want to have a job I've got to do better than what I'm doing right now.'
And the Brewers' ninth-inning comeback wasn't even led by their big-slugging stars.
Pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay, who came through with the big hit on Friday, tied it with an RBI single, scoring Nyjer Morgan. With the bases loaded and one out, pinch-hitter Craig Counsell delivered a sacrifice fly to win the game.
``It was so fun before these last four games,' Cordero said. ``I was fine. I was pitching good. I was all smiles, but (I've) just got to stop doing this.'
Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't have any easy answers for why Cordero is struggling.
``Man I don't know,' Baker sad. ``He was throwing the ball so well until this week. This was a bad week for Coco and a bad week for us.'
Cordero also hit Rickie Weeks during his ninth-inning meltdown, but said it wasn't intentional.
``I don't want to hit him,' Cordero said. ``I don't want to hit anybody, especially a guy I played with.'
The Brewers' rally ruined a return to the big leagues by Dontrelle Willis, who gave up a pair of runs over six innings for Cincinnati.
``A little too excited early, but I had fun competing against a great ballclub,' Willis said. ``I just wanted to go out there and give it a good outing. I feel like I did that.'
After sending struggling starter Edinson Volquez to Triple-A Louisville on Thursday, the Reds turned to Willis to start Sunday's game. The former Florida Marlins standout had been pitching in Louisville after failing to make the Reds coming out of spring training.
``He was a little shaky, but got better as the game went on,' Baker said. ``Probably a little jittery, a little nervous, first time back after a long time. But after he settled down, he found the strike zone.
Willis even contributed at the plate, doubling in the sixth inning. Willis grabbed his left thigh after arriving at second base and received attention from the Reds' training staff, but stayed in the game
Milwaukee again was without Ryan Braun, who has missed the team's last eight games with a lingering calf strain. Braun will not play in Tuesday's All-Star game but said he expects to be ready to return when the Brewers resume play in Colorado on Thursday.
The Reds took the lead after a throwing error by Weeks while trying to turn a double play allowed a run in the fourth.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf went seven innings, giving up seven hits and three runs, two earned.
Wolf nearly gave himself a big boost at the plate in the second, coming a few feet away from a home run when he hit a long fly ball over the fence near the foul pole in right field. Umpires ruled the drive was foul and the call was confirmed on a replay review.
Baker was ready for the fishing trip he planned to take during the break.
``Boy, that doesn't make for a very pleasant All-Star break,' Baker said. ``But it's the same way we ended last year against the Phillies. If that's any kind of sign, we have to rebound the same way we always have.'
NOTES: The Brewers optioned INF/OF Mat Gamel to Triple-A Nashville and recalled RHP Cody Scarpetta. ... The Reds optioned RHP Carlos Fisher to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Willis. ... The second-inning replay review of Wolf's near-home run was the second replay review in a Brewers game this season and first of the season at Miller Park. ... Sunday's crowd was 43,896, the Brewers' 14th sellout of the season.
The Associated Press News Service
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