MILWAUKEE (AP)—Francisco Cordero said it didn’t really bother him to get booed by the fans who used to cheer him on.
In fact, he said, the harsh reception gave him a little extra motivation— something he showed by mowing down three of the Milwaukee Brewers’ biggest bats to earn a save in the Cincinnati Reds’ 4-1 victory Thursday.
“They’re probably a little upset that I left,” Cordero said. “They probably want me back.”
Cordero’s new teammates, meanwhile, thought it was hilarious.
“Man, they booed (you) worse than they booed me,” Ken Griffey Jr. hooted in the clubhouse afterward. “That was tremendous!”
Cordero’s second save of the season came after eight strong innings from starter Aaron Harang, who gave up a soft RBI single to J.J. Hardy in the second and then held the Brewers’ potent offense scoreless until Cordero came in for the ninth.
With the victory, Cincinnati rebounded from Tuesday’s loss to take two out of three from the Brewers. Cincinnati held Milwaukee to eight runs in three games.
“It shows that we’ve definitely turned it around, and I think we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with,” Harang said.
“They’ve all got power,” Cordero said. “Just in a blink, they can tie the game. So you’ve got to go right at it and try to get it done quick.”
He did, getting Fielder to pop out, striking out Braun on a slider and getting Hall to ground out.
Brewers manager Ned Yost, who has patiently watched new closer Eric Gagne blow two of his first three save opportunities, was asked if it was strange to see Cordero in another uniform.
“No,” Yost said. “It’s reality.”
Meanwhile, Fielder is dealing with his own reality: He hasn’t hit a home run yet.
“It’s God-awful,” Fielder said. “Being in the middle of the lineup, I have to do a little better. I’ll just keep going out there swinging hard.”
Harang (1-1) allowed five hits, striking out three without a walk. He threw 74 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
“The fact that they know I’m going to be out there throwing strikes just makes them have to swing the bat,” Harang said.
Harang said the addition of Cordero “locks up” the back end of the Reds’ pitching staff. And he couldn’t help but chuckle about the boos Cordero received from Brewers fans.
“I had to see that,” Harang said, laughing. “That was something special.”
Brewers starter Carlos Villanueva (1-1) held the Reds hitless into the fifth inning, when he gave up a single to Scott Hatteberg and an RBI double by Paul Bako. Tied 1-1 going into the seventh, Cincinnati chased Villanueva with three runs.
Adam Dunn led off the inning with a half-swing flare over Hall, who plays third for Milwaukee but was standing at shortstop as part of a defensive shift. Edwin Encarnacion then hit the first pitch he saw from Villanueva for his second homer of the season.
Reds manager Dusty Baker gave Encarnacion, who was hitless in his last 17 at-bats after going 0-for-4 Tuesday, the day off Wednesday.
“He was ready to go,” Baker said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to clear your mind. My job as a manager is knowing when—or at least guessing when.”
The Reds took a 4-1 lead when Hatteberg doubled and scored on a single by Paul Bako.
Cincinnati had a chance for an even bigger inning after Harang punched a single past Hall—making up for a failed squeeze play in the fifth—but Griffey hit into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Yost said the Brewers would prefer to give Yovani Gallardo another minor league rehab start before bringing him up. But with rain forecast for this weekend’s series against the Mets in New York, Gallardo will be with the team just in case weather disrupts the rotation. Gallardo is rehabbing a left knee injury. … With three games in Pittsburgh followed by a day off Monday, Baker said he might juggle his rotation to keep Harang on his regular five-day schedule.