Rangers break out bats, club Padres
Murphy homers as Texas scores nine in first three innings
ARLINGTON -- Rangers ace Kevin Millwood had what he called "the worst stuff I've had all year" on Friday night, that after rooting on his teammates to a victory in Arizona late Thursday from the comforts of home and then sleeping in his own bed.
The rest of the Rangers, notably the hitters, arrived at home at 4:30 a.m. CT Friday morning from Phoenix and still managed to continue a much-needed revival at the plate.
The focus right now is the bats in Texas, and everyone slept a lot better after the Rangers pounded San Diego, 12-2, on Friday night at sweltering Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
A Rangers offense that has suffered through one of the strangest slumps in team history -- you have to go back to 1990 for the last time runs were this difficult to come by -- made it 21 runs in the past two games.
So much for going 21 games without scoring more than six runs, which last happened from May 10-June 7, 1990. The Rangers' offense appears to be its old self again, right?
"It'll take another four or five days for that answer," manager Ron Washington said.
The man who was the beneficiary of the offense outburst, Millwood, deserved such a fate. He has pitched in several tough-luck games this year, losing 2-0, 3-2, 4-3 and again 3-2 in his last start Sunday in San Francisco.
The Rangers had averaged 4.47 runs per nine innings in his starts and had only topped six runs or more in four of his 16 starts. He had a 7-5 record to show for it, when he could easily be 11-2 (the Rangers lost April 12 in Detroit when Millwood handed the bullpen a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning).
Millwood got all the support he needed Friday night after allowing a home run to Tony Gwynn to start the game.
Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored when Gwynn misplayed a line drive by David Murphy into a two-base error, scoring Kinsler. Murphy later scored on a sacrifice fly by Hank Blalock as the Rangers took the lead for good at 2-1.
From there, it was an inconsistent Millwood and a downright consistent Rangers offense.
Millwood pitched around a leadoff walk in the second. In the third, he walked Adrian Gonzalez, the one big threat in the Padres' lineup with 24 home runs, with a runner in scoring position and got Kevin Kouzmanoff to ground out.
That allowed the offense to keep tacking on runs. Murphy sparked a four-run second with a three-run home run into the home run porch in right field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a two-run double and Elvis Andrus an RBI single -- he was 4-for-4 -- as the Rangers staked Millwood to a 9-1 lead in the third.
Millwood pitched out of bases-loaded jam in the fifth, allowing just one run, and struck out the side to finish his night in the sixth.
"My fastball and location weren't very good," said Millwood, who had three walks and two hit batters. "It feels good to win, but I wanted to go deeper in the game and give the bullpen a break."
For once, the big concern for the Rangers isn't that the ace of the pitching staff forced the bullpen to log three innings.
A huge offensive slump has been the focus as the Rangers have tried to stave off the Angels atop the American League West.
That the offense carried things over from Arizona had the Rangers hitters feeling better Friday night. And the pitchers. The Rangers scored in double digits for the first time since beating Oakland, 14-1, on May 30.
"And we still don't have Hambone [Josh Hamilton] in the lineup," Millwood said. "It seems like we're getting back on track."
Third baseman Michael Young said the Rangers' hitters know this slump is not going to last.
"There's not a magic formula," he said. "We're a confident group of guys. We've always hit.
"We're focused on having good at-bats, whether it's a two-pitch at-bat or if we work the count a little."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.