Here the Reds were, nursing a one-run lead with the heart of the Giants' lineup stepping to the plate in the seventh. Who else would they want in such a crucial spot?
But Baker didn't want to risk Rhodes and his sore right foot. Instead, Daniel Ray Herrera came in and allowed a pair of singles. One out later, Enerio Del Rosario allowed another single to Juan Uribe to plate both runs, leading to a 6-5 Giants win Monday night.
"The last thing we want to do is kill Arthur Rhodes," Baker said. "Some other guys gotta step up in that situation. He's in quite a bit of pain, so we didn't really want Arthur to go a full inning, just a partial inning. We just couldn't hold."
Rhodes did enter the game in the eighth and pitched two-thirds of an inning, walking one and striking out one. His ERA stands at 0.36, and he hasn't allowed a run in a Major League-leading 22 2/3 innings.
The scoreless streak has continued despite the nagging soreness in his foot, which Rhodes said he receives treatment on every day.
"It just hurts on certain pitches, but I can pitch through it," Rhodes said.
He said he doesn't know what caused the problem, and he also said he's "getting tired of it." At 40 years old, Rhodes has appeared in 27 games, good for third most on the staff.
No matter how reliable Rhodes has been, Baker knows he can't rely on him for every difficult situation.
"He's a warrior and a man, and he's been pitching in pain the last couple weeks," Baker said. "We just don't want one thing to lead to something else -- that's why we need some other guys to step it up. Can't pitch Arthur every inning."
Early in the game, it looked as if the Reds might need a lot of bullpen help to get through the evening.
Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto fell behind early, yet he managed to get comfortable, pitch six innings and potentially earn a win. Baker said Cueto struggled with location, leaving his fastball up and not finishing off hitters.
With 102 pitches under his belt, Cueto stood in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the sixth as the Reds continued a two-out rally and watched as catcher Ramon Hernandez walked to load the bases. Cueto stepped out of the circle and out of the game, and Miguel Cairo took his place and slapped a two-run single into left field to give Cincinnati a 5-4 lead.
But once again, the Reds wouldn't hold onto a lead for Cueto. It was the fifth blown save in a Cueto start, which leads the Major Leagues, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
"Yeah, he was leaving the ball up, missing his spot early in the game," Hernandez said. "But he kept us in the game and came out with another two or three innings pretty sharp."
The Giants finished with 13 hits, 12 of which were singles. Cueto allowed three two-strike singles in the second inning, the last being a two-run hit by Giants pitcher Barry Zito.
But after allowing another pair of runs in the third, Cueto settled in and pitched three scoreless innings as the Reds climbed back and took a lead.
The one-run lead in hand, Baker tested his young relievers instead of once again placing the burden on the veteran Rhodes.
Herrera had allowed just one run in his previous nine appearances. But the Giants got back to doing what they did earlier against Cueto and simply strung together singles, leaving some questions about the depth of the Reds bullpen.
"We've just got to keep pitching," Hernandez said. "A lot of guys are going to struggle. It's a long season. We're where we're at right now because our pitching got very good, very sharp, and our bullpen's been doing a good job. You're going to get tough losses, and you're going to get good wins."
Matt Brown is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less