Thanks to homers, Millwood bests Smoltz
Young, Murphy, Saltalamacchia go long during big sixth
ARLINGTON -- Ex-Braves teammates Kevin Millwood and John Smoltz are planning to play golf together on Tuesday.You might be able to tell which one is Millwood. He should be the one with the triumphant smile on his face, and it won't be because he's doing his best Tom Watson imitation. It's because he beat Smoltz in the one game that really matters. Not that Millwood would ever gloat under any circumstances, but he did get the win on Monday night when the Rangers scored five off Smoltz in the sixth inning on their way to a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas was down, 2-0, in the top of the fourth before rallying for the second consecutive night. Millwood and Smoltz were teammates on the Braves for six years in 1997-2002, but this was the first time they've faced each other as opponents. "The biggest thing was winning the game," Millwood said. "We needed a win to get things going back in the right direction. To win against somebody of that caliber is a great win. I have so much respect for the guy, you want him to do well, but you want to win yourself. It's almost like you want to win, 1-0." And the Rangers needed more than one run. Michael Young, David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all hit home runs in that sixth, and the Rangers are now 2 1/2 games behind the rained-out Angels in the American League West. Young had three hits off Smoltz, including a double in the fourth inning that led to the Rangers' first run. "Smoltz was throwing a great game," Young said. "For a lot of us, it was the first time seeing him. He still has good life on his fastball and good bite on his breaking ball. He was throwing a great game. We were fortunate we had some guys string together some good at-bats and get a big inning going." Millwood, pitching on eight days of rest, turned in what manager Ron Washington called a "superb performance" in holding the Red Sox to two runs in six innings, earning his first victory since June 26. "Those guys made him throw some pitches," Washington said. "But he made pitches when he had to, and I think the time off made him stronger. Against that lineup, he was superb." Millwood is now 9-7 with a 3.44 ERA on the season and 7-1 with a 2.53 ERA at home. He has also beaten the Red Sox twice this season, as one of his two road victories came at Fenway Park on June 5. "I felt better tonight, I felt rejuvenated," Millwood said. "It took me a little while to get it going, but those guys make it tough even if you have your good stuff. I felt I had good stuff. Those guys are so dangerous 1-9, it's just a pain to pitch to them." Millwood did retire the final six hitters he faced after almost letting the game slip away in the fourth inning. A couple of nice defensive plays saved him in that frame. Jason Bay, with the Red Sox leading, 1-0, singled with one out, but he was cut down by Saltalamacchia trying to steal second. J.D. Drew then walked, Mike Lowell singled and Jason Varitek doubled over Josh Hamilton's head in right field. Drew scored easily, but Lowell -- who came off the disabled list Friday after being out with a strained right hip -- was cut down trying to score from first. Second baseman Ian Kinsler made a strong, quick relay throw and Saltalamacchia -- winner of the ex-Brave of the Night Award -- made a quick tag at the plate to just get Lowell. "I saw Lowell coming around third, and he's not the fastest player in the game, so I knew we had a play," Saltalamacchia said. "I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play, so I put the glove in there and he ran into it. That was huge." That kept it a two-run game. A leadoff double by Young and a two-out double by Hank Blalock made it 2-1 in the bottom of the inning. It was still that way when Young led off the seventh inning by smashing a 2-1 slider over the left-center-field wall for a game-tying home run. Hamilton then blooped a double down the left-field line and, after Andruw Jones struck out, he scored on a single by Blalock. Marlon Byrd struck out, but David Murphy golfed a 1-2 fastball just a couple of inches above his shoelaces into the right-field seats for a two-run home run. "I slipped," Smoltz said. "But still, for him to hit it ... tip your hat to him, but it was certainly not the pitch I wanted to make." Saltalamacchia then hit Smoltz's next -- and last -- pitch over the center-field wall for a home run. It's the first time Smoltz has given up three home runs in a game since June 8, 1997, against the Giants, and it's the first time he's given up three homers in one frame since June 19, 1994, against the Reds. "You just don't expect to score five runs in an inning off a guy like that," Millwood said. "It's bittersweet. It's great to get a win, but you'd like to see him do better." Maybe Smoltz can gain revenge on the golf course.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.