Notes: Yost confident in Cordero

Notes: Yost confident in Cordero

ARLINGTON -- It was the kind of shocking loss that could devastate an already struggling team, and perhaps do irreversible damage to the confidence and psyche of an inexperienced closer.

Francisco Cordero was one strike away from ending a 3-0 Brewers victory over the Rangers on Saturday night, when he suddenly gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in one of the unlikeliest two-out rallies of this season. The Rangers beat their former closer, 4-3, and ended his streak of 22 consecutive saves since the start of the season.

Cordero fell short of breaking Doug Jones' franchise record of 25 consecutive saves, set in 1997. But he was more upset about not preserving a well-deserved win for starter Ben Sheets, who had pitched seven shutout innings.

"I feel really bad because Ben threw an unbelievable game," Cordero said.

But manager Ned Yost was not concerned that Cordero might be mentally or emotionally scarred by the stunning turn of events.

"That kind of loss would be tough on a young closer," Yost said. "But he's a veteran enough to know this was not the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last time."

The Brewers closed their clubhouse for a 20-minute team meeting before Sunday's series finale in Texas, though it was said to be concerning the upcoming All-Star break rather than addressing the aftermath of a painful loss Yost dismissed as "an aberration."

"[Cordero] has been phenomenal," Yost said. "He's been lights-out perfect for us. But nobody's perfect, and when you have a game like that, you bounce back. You're going to have nights like that. We knew it was coming. It happens sometime."

Is there need to worry about how a tough loss will affect a young team?

"Sometimes you do," Yost said, "but you don't worry about it with this team. Last night was a total aberration. It was so far-fetched, it's not even worth discussion or reviewing. You just forget that game."

Cordero got another chance on Sunday night, but he allowed a game-tying RBI single in the ninth for his second straight blown save. The Brewers, rallied, however, to beat the Rangers, 9-6, in 12 innings.

The unamazing race: Making Saturday's defeat easier to stomach was the fact that four of the Brewers' five pursuers in the tepid National League Central also lost Saturday. Only fourth-place Houston gained a game, and the Astros still were 6 1/2 games out as play began on Sunday.

The Brewers were 24-10 and leading the division by seven games on May 11. Since then, entering Sunday, they were 9-19, but had only lost two games off their lead. In that same span, the Cardinals were 12-15, the Cubs were 11-17, the Pirates were 11-18, the Astros were 10-17 and the Reds joined the Brewers at 9-19.

Jenkins climbing ladder: Outfielder Geoff Jenkins entered Sunday homerless since May 26, a span of 13 games and 31 at-bats. But his next home run will be his 202nd, breaking a tie with Cecil Cooper for sole possession of third place on the Brewers franchise list, trailing only Gorman Thomas (208) and Robin Yount (251).

"It's cool to think about," said Jenkins, a career Brewer since the team made him the ninth overall pick in the 1995 First-Year Player Draft. "It says you've been here a long time and done some good things. It's a nice achievement, but I'm more concerned with doing things that help the team win. Although, if you hit home runs, it usually helps the team."

Jenkins entered Sunday with 10 homers this season. He has averaged 24 homers per year over the past four seasons, making it realistic to think he will pass Thomas later this year.

But the chance to hit the 51 homers he needs to break Yount's franchise record could be taken out of his hands. Jenkins is in the final year of a three-year, $23 million contract extension, and he is making $7 million this season. This winter, the club will have to decide whether to pick up Jenkins' $9 million option for 2008 or pay a $500,000 buyout.

Leaning on the long ball: The Brewers entered Sunday having scored three runs or fewer in 16 of their last 24 games. They were 8-16 in that span, and an increasingly one-dimensional offense could be part of the problem.

Only three of baseball's 30 teams have relied on home runs to score at least 41 percent of their runs this season, and two of them are in last place. The Reds have scored 46 percent of their runs via home run, the Brewers 44.2 percent and the Rangers 41.2 percent.

Vargas in limbo: Right-hander Claudio Vargas said he was OK with being the starting pitcher whose turn will be skipped because the Brewers have two days off in a five-day span. He's just not certain when he will pitch next.

Vargas is listed as the probable starter for next Saturday's game against Minnesota, which seems likely since that would keep the rest of the rotation on its usual five-day schedule. But Yost could elect to start Vargas in Friday's series opener against the Twins and give Dave Bush an extra day between starts.

"They haven't told me yet which day I'll start," Vargas said. "I'll be available in the bullpen the next couple days if they need me, so I'll be ready for that, too. I just want to do the best I can for the team."

Briefly: Saturday's loss was the Brewers' first of the year when leading after eight innings. They entered Sunday 31-1 in such situations. ... It was also the first time Milwaukee lost when leading by three runs in the ninth since a 6-5, 11-inning loss at Minnesota on May 22, 2005. Derrick Turnbow was unable to hold a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning of that game. ... Milwaukee has used just 28 players this season, the fewest of any club in the Majors. Last season, the Brewers needed 49 players to get through the season, tying a franchise record.

Up next: The Brewers are off Monday, then open a three-game series at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday night. Right-hander Jeff Suppan (7-6, 3.92 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Tigers righty Justin Verlander (6-2, 3.12) in Tuesday's series opener at 6:05 p.m. CT.

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.