05/14/07 8:15 PM ET
Texas loses finale, as well as Millwood
Right-hander re-aggravates hamstring after coming off DL
By Ken Daley / Special to MLB.com
It had indeed rained, but neither early enough or with sufficient gusto to prevent the Rangers from suffering another worrisome injury nor another costly loss. The front-running Los Angeles Angels jumped on a hobbled Kevin Millwood and won for the third time in this four-game series, 7-2, dropping last-place Texas 6 1/2 games out in the AL West race.
Millwood came off the disabled list Monday to make his first start since April 28, seeking his first win since April 13. Before the game, Washington said, "He's my No. 1 starter, so it means a lot to have him back. I just hope his leg holds up and he gets some innings in today."
Instead, Washington's worst fears were realized. Millwood's front foot slipped on the mound on his fourth pitch of the game, and the tender left hamstring that had shelved him for 16 days was injured again.
The big right-hander tried to shorten his stride and pitch through it, but it was not to be. He retired only one of the first four hitters he faced before Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman hit a grand slam over the right-field wall for a 4-0 lead.
Millwood had the leg wrapped between innings and retired the first two batters in the second. But after walking Reggie Willits and giving up a single to Orlando Cabrera, he didn't argue when Washington, pitching coach Mark Connor and trainer Jamie Reed came out to remove him from the game. It had taken Millwood 45 pitches to complete 1 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the year.
"I just kind of slipped or misstepped there against the first batter of the game, and it just got sore," Millwood said. "It's kind of the same thing as before, but feels like it's in a little bit of a different spot. In the second inning, I just couldn't get out over my front leg, and that's not an easy way to pitch."
Asked whether he anticipated returning to the disabled list, Millwood said, "I don't know. We'll just see what they say [Tuesday]. We don't have the luxury of any off-days, so we'll have to see."
But Washington, the team's eternal optimist, admitted, "I'm not optimistic. We really don't know the extent of it yet, but a hamstring is nothing to play with.
"He needs his legs and he needs them healthy. If we'd left him out there, he'd have kept going. That's the way he is. But that's not necessary."
Relievers Willie Eyre, Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson got the Rangers through the final 7 2/3 innings, with Eyre also having to wait out a 33-minute rain delay in the top of the third inning. When the game resumed, Eyre immediately surrendered an RBI double to Mike Napoli and a two-run single to Tommy Murphy that staked Angels starter Jered Weaver to a 7-0 lead.
"The delay certainly didn't hurt Weaver," Washington noted. "Weaver just shut us down."
Indeed, Weaver (2-3) had little trouble with the Rangers or the weather. The lanky right-hander worked seven strong innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out five. Only a one-out homer by Hank Blalock in the fourth spoiled Weaver's line.
Some Rangers disagreed with plate umpire Tim Timmons' interpretation of the strike zone. Second baseman Ian Kinsler argued a called strikeout in the seventh, and designated hitter Sammy Sosa was ejected for complaining from the dugout after his third strikeout ended an 0-for-4 day.
Former Rangers left-hander Darren Oliver worked the ninth for Los Angeles and gave up the other run, a one-out homer by Brad Wilkerson.
The Rangers were outscored 25-15 in losing three of four to the first-place Angels, and 12 of their runs came on home runs, often with the games already out of reach. Texas allowed at least six runs in every game. After sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays for their first three-game winning streak of the season, the Rangers went 2-5 against the Yankees and Angels, two teams that appear to be in a stronger weight class.
"We played like we're in last place in the division," Millwood conceded.
Right-hander Mike Wood, who was 0-1 with a 7.02 ERA in three starts replacing Millwood, was optioned back to Triple-A Oklahoma before Millwood was activated. Because of the injury, Wood could be recalled sooner than the 10-day stay in the minors ordinarily required. But because the bullpen was overextended Monday, it is likely a relief pitcher will be recalled to help tide things over until Millwood's next turn comes up Saturday in Houston.
"I'm not sure what we're going to do," Washington said as the team prepared to leave for Florida and a three-game series in Orlando against Tampa Bay. "We haven't talked about it yet."
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.