ST. LOUIS -- Francisco Cordero has probably seen enough of Rays outfielder Carl Crawford in All-Star Games, on both sides of the ball.

The last time Cordero pitched in the Midsummer Classic was in San Francisco in 2007. Then the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers, Cordero served up a two-out homer in the sixth inning to Crawford to give the American League a 3-1 lead.

This time around, Cordero got past the speedy Rays outfielder in the box, but Crawford found a way to hurt the right-hander with this glove. When the Reds closer was summoned in the top of the seventh inning of a 3-3 tie, Cordero set down the American League in order. After Aaron Hill flew out to left, he got Crawford to ground out to short and finished off the inning by getting Justin Morneau to line out to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

There was one chance for Cordero to get an All-Star victory -- if the National League scored a run in the bottom of the seventh and held on to the lead. That looked like a distinct possibility when Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe crushed a ball the other way that appeared headed for the AL bullpen. But Crawford had other ideas, leaping to rob Hawpe of a home run to keep the score tied and Cordero out of the win column. It was a play that earned Crawford the MVP Award in the eventual 4-3 AL victory.

"It's always Carl Crawford getting in my way," Cordero said with a smile. "But no, that was a good play. Unfortunately, we lost. He went after it and got it. Last time, he took me deep. This time, he took away a 'W.' Who knows what the result of the game would've been, but that was the go-ahead run right there. He's a good player."

Despite the loss, Cordero leaves St. Louis pleased with his performance. It's not just that he pitched a scoreless frame, but that he was particularly efficient in getting it done.

"I felt pretty good. I felt even better that I came in one inning and threw nine pitches," said Cordero, tied for fifth in the NL with 21 saves. "Now I'll be well-rested for our home series. We're starting at home against the Brewers."

That's important because in the wide-open NL Central, anything is still possible. Though the Reds enter the second half in fifth place, they're also just five games behind the division-leading Cardinals. With four teams in the way, it might still be a long climb, but Cordero believes anything is possible.

"I think this is when real things start," Cordero said. "We're going to play the second half of the season, we're still right there and we're starting out at home against one of the teams in front of us. We just have to continue to play well and see what happens in the end."

In the end, Cordero made the most of his All-Star experience, just like he did in San Francisco and in his first All-Star Game, the 2004 event in Houston, a game in which he did not appear. While St. Louis might be a division rival, he had nothing but good things to say about the host city.

"This is one of the greatest cities having an All-Star Game because they have great fans over here," Cordero said. "It's an unbelievable feeling. Every All-Star Game is amazing. I enjoy it. This is my third one, and I've enjoyed every one of them."