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09/08/10 1:47 PM ET

Mo tips cap to Hoffman for No. 600

NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera applauded Trevor Hoffman's 600th save on Wednesday, one day after the Brewers hurler became the first pitcher to reach the plateau by protecting a 4-2 win over the Cardinals.

"That's a tremendous milestone," Rivera said. "Lee Smith had [478] saves for a long, long time. Now Hoffman has 600 saves, and that's beautiful. God bless him, and I wish him the best."

Rivera is next on baseball's all-time list with 555 saves entering play on Wednesday, and though the pitchers have toiled in separate leagues for their entire careers, there is a sort of kinship between the veteran closers.

Matched against each other in the 1998 World Series, when Hoffman's Padres played the Yankees, Rivera said he had a chance to speak with Hoffman a little bit, and they have also engaged at various All-Star Game functions over the years.

"I respect Hoffman a lot," Rivera said. "I admire him, the way he takes care of himself and the way he respects the game. To me, that is precious and worthy of respect. Hopefully, he continues."

It has been a trying season for Hoffman, who lost his closer's job in May but has been supplied with opportunities recently by the Brewers to help him reach the milestone. Tuesday's save was Hoffman's ninth in 13 chances this year.

Meanwhile, Rivera is just as dominant as he has been at any point in his career, having earned selection as an All-Star and posted a 1.03 ERA to go along with 29 saves. Just 45 away from reaching 600 saves himself, Rivera says he doesn't consider what his final total might be.

"I don't think about it," Rivera said. "I think there are a lot of things that you don't control, and we sometimes worry too much about it. I don't think like that. If God allows it, that's how it will happen."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.