MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have a new closer. You may have heard of him.
Francisco Rodriguez, Major League Baseball's single-season saves king, took over the job beginning Tuesday from John Axford and finally resumed his march toward 300 saves, working a tense but scoreless ninth inning for a 3-2 win over the Cardinals.
Rodriguez came to the Brewers from the Mets in a July 2011 trade with 291 saves -- including a record 62 in 2008 for the Angels -- but Tuesday marked only his second save in more than a year with Milwaukee.
It re-started his march toward 300. Rodriguez is seven saves away.
"At 299, I'll think about it," he said. "Right now, I just want to get back in the race. That's what I want so bad. We had such a great run last year in the second half, and we believe as players, these 25 guys on this ballclub, that we can make it again. That's going to be out goal. It's a challenge, but not impossible."
Axford's breaking point came Monday, when he struggled to command all of his pitches against the Cardinals and suffered his sixth blown save in a 3-2 Brewers loss.
"Frankie's going to close right now," manager Ron Roenicke announced Tuesday afternoon, after discussing the change with both relievers. "Ax, we're going to put him where we feel he has a chance to get his rhythm back, his confidence back."
Rodriguez has had his own rough patches in 2012, saying after a June loss at Kansas City that this has been his most frustrating season. But in his last 16 outings, Rodriguez has a 1.84 ERA.
Now he'll get an opportunity to add some saves to his ledger.
"It was good, but at the same time it was bad," Rodriguez said of the Brewers' change. "I cannot be happy, especially with the situation, what we're going through right now. Definitely, I didn't want to get the job in this way. Hopefully, I can step up and get the job done and get some Ws and start to make a run."