Millwood goes the distance in win
Hamilton falls double short of cycle in victory over Tigers
ARLINGTON -- What's the one thing that could overshadow six home runs in a game from the Texas offense? How about a complete game out of Kevin Millwood.Five days ago, Millwood walked off the mound at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to a cacophony of boos, having given up four home runs in 4 2/3 innings. At the end of Wednesday night's game, however, Millwood was pumping his fist in triumph, having guided Texas to a 9-1 victory over Detroit. "I was happy," said Millwood, who hadn't earned a victory since July 6. "It was over and we won. I felt like I'd pitched a good game, and maybe there was some frustration getting let out there, too." In nine innings, Millwood effortlessly located and mixed his pitches, keeping the Tigers' hitters off balance. He said he was able to throw his fastball whenever he wanted. In all, he allowed seven baserunners and threw 80 of 113 pitches for strikes, striking out four. "I was looking for him to go seven innings, maybe eight," manager Ron Washington said. "His fastball had some serious life there at the end." The outing was Millwood's first nine-inning complete game since Aug. 29, 2006. Millwood, who was making his second start since returning from a right groin strain, said it was easily his best start of the season, but still wasn't fully satisfied with the performance. "I'm not saying everything was great tonight, but it was pretty good," Millwood said. His backstop, Gerald Laird, concurred. "It wasn't his best stuff, but all his pitches were good," Laird said. "He still has more left in the tank. He's been out for a while, but hopefully this gets him into a little bit of a groove." Even if he wasn't at his best, there's no doubt Millwood made a statement by going the distance. He snapped a personal string of four straight starts without a victory, as well as the Rangers' three-game team losing streak. "Whether or not we're playing for something, it's still my job to go out and win games," Millwood said. Whatever Millwood apparently lacked during his start, ideal weather conditions made up the difference. Rangers Ballpark, where swirling winds aid home runs -- such as in Millwood's last start -- was uncharacteristically calm, allowing Millwood to get fly-ball outs. Out of 27 outs, 12 were fly balls tracked down by the Texas outfield. The only hiccup during Millwood's outing was a pair of doubles he allowed in the fourth that led to Detroit's only run. Going forward, Washington thought the start would give Millwood peace of mind. "It let him know that he's healthy," Washington said. "Now he can get out there and do what he does." The Texas offense picked up a little confidence during the night as well. Even without the advantageous wind to provide assistance, the Rangers tied a season high, belting six home runs. Travis Metcalf put Texas on the board with a two-run home run in the second, and struck again in the seventh with a solo shot to give him the first multi-home run game of his career. "It's getting there," said Metcalf, who also singled in the game. "It comes and goes. There's no nerves or anything like that any more. I just feel like I can go out and produce." Then there were two sets of back-to-back home runs, first by Brandon Boggs and Michael Young in the third inning and later from Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley in the fourth. It was the first time Texas had gone deep back-to-back in two separate innings since June 2, 1989, in Seattle. That time, Ruben Sierra and Julio Franco went back-to-back in the third inning while Chad Kreuter and Cecil Espy hit consecutive long balls in the eighth. Hamilton and Bradley have now gone back-to-back three times this season. Hamilton came up a double shy of hitting for the cycle during the offensive onslaught. Also encouraging for the Rangers, who had averaged less than three runs a game in their previous six contests entering Wednesday, was that five of their runs came with two outs. "As tough as hits are to get, when you start getting those hits with two outs, that's when you start winning ballgames," Washington said.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.