HOUSTON -- Sometimes Francisco Cordero will slam the door shut in the ninth. And sometimes, the Reds closer might open the door of opportunity enough to tease his opponent a few times and make everyone nervous.

As long as the Reds are the team shaking hands and high fiving after a game, it doesn't matter to Cordero.

Sunday's save for a 4-2 win over the Astros had plenty of ninth-inning drama. Cordero threw a season-high 32 pitches and allowed his first run of 2009. Before he notched the first out while holding a 4-1 lead, a leadoff walk and a single put runners on the corners. A one-out Carlos Lee sacrifice fly made it a two-run game. A two-out walk followed before Cordero got Kaz Matsui to fly out to right field for the game-ender.

"You get into trouble, and you're able to get out of it," Cordero said. "I limited the damage and gave up one run and at least we were up by two. I had a lot of room to work. It's always good when you can come back and get it done. Sometimes, you give up a couple of runs. What matters the most is getting the 'W' in the end and getting the save."

On Monday, Cordero finished Houston for another save after giving up a one-out single. All three of his outs came on fly balls. That made him 5-for-5 in save chances to go with his 1.50 ERA in six appearances with four walks and five strikeouts.

While trying to get himself together again after September right ankle surgery, Cordero struggled during Spring Training. He owned a 12.10 ERA over 9 2/3 innings.

Two weeks into the season and no one talks about what he did in spring.

"I feel great about it," Cordero said. "I feel good with myself. The ankle is still good. Everybody saw it wasn't the prettiest Spring Training I could have, but I'm glad that's behind me. I'm able to my job up here when it really counts."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Micah Owings (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
A long layoff had Owings looking a little rusty during a 9-3 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday. The right-hander, who worked one batter into the sixth, gave up four earned runs and five hits over five innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Almost half of his 89 pitches were called balls (42). It had been 10 days since Owings pitched in any kind of game, and that was a Minor League outing at Spring Training. That was because his first start was rained out, prompting the Reds to recalibrate their rotation. Owings was moved to the bullpen but saw no action. In just 1 1/3 career innings vs. the Cubs, Owings has a 33.75 ERA with five runs allowed on two hits.

CHC: RHP Rich Harden (0-1, 5.00 ERA)
Harden struggled in his first start at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, throwing 92 pitches over four innings. He needed 13 pitches to get through the first inning, then threw 14 in one at-bat to Colorado's Garrett Atkins to open the second. For the game, Harden gave up four runs on five hits and four walks while striking out eight. He is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in his career against the Reds.

Reds notes
Brandon Phillips is mired in an 0-for-17 skid. ... Cordero has 216 career saves, which ties him with Dave Smith for 33rd all-time. ... Joey Votto, who delievered Monday's two-run double for the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, has hit safely in 10 of 12 games.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSO

On radio
• WLW 700

Up next
• Wednesday: Reds (Johnny Cueto, 0-1, 4.22) at Cubs (Ted Lilly, 2-0, 3.86), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 1-2, 2.70) at Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 1-0, 5.21), 2:20 p.m. ET
• Friday: Reds (Edinson Volquez, 2-1, 6.46) vs. Braves (Javier Vazquez, 1-1, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. ET