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09/13/09 1:36 AM ET
Rangers absorb rain-shortened loss
Millwood struggles as Texas loses Wild Card ground
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, after a day off on Thursday and a rainout on Friday, were eager to play Saturday night. Kevin Millwood was eager to pitch after some productive work between starts with pitching coach Mike Maddux. The weather, after being miserable all day, cooperated for a few hours at least. But then it all turned miserable for Millwood, the Rangers and Mother Nature as the Rangers lost ground in the American League Wild Card chase and missed a chance to gain ground in the AL West. < p /> Instead, Millwood suffered through his second shortest outing of the season, giving up five runs in 3 2/3 innings in an 8-3 rain-shortened loss to the Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It was his shortest outing since two innings against the Royals on July 26 when he left with a strained gluteus muscle. "It's a little frustrating," Millwood said. "I'm trying to do some things to get it straightened out and it's not working right now. Hopefully we'll get some work done between now and the next one and get better." The next one is a big one. Millwood is scheduled to pitch Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series with the first-place Angels in Arlington. Manager Ron Washington said he still has confidence in giving Millwood the ball. "Of course," Washington said. "You think you get to this point of the year and not be confident. We are confident. You've got to take the good with the bad." Saturday's game was delayed 17 minutes at the start by rain and the last five innings were played in a steady downpour that gradually grew stronger as the game progressed. By the bottom of the ninth, it was a deluge. The umpires tried to see it through to conclusion, but play was stopped two batters into the ninth. Marlon Byrd led off with a single and David Murphy hit a routine grounder to shortstop. Normally it's a double play, but Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson slipped and floundered in the mud. After that error, the umpires pulled both teams off the field. One hour and six minutes later, it was called for good. When it was finally finished, the Rangers were three games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race and still 5 1/2 games behind the Angels in the AL West. Millwood is now 2-5 with a 6.29 ERA in his past 12 starts going back to the beginning of July and 10-10 with a 3.94 ERA in 28 starts on the season. In his past 63 innings, he has allowed 77 hits and 31 walks while striking out 39. Millwood said physically he is fine. "Everything feels fine," he said. "I'm just trying to get people out." Millwood did enter the game having held opponents to a .159 batting average with runners in scoring position. But he gave up two hits in those situations and the second one was the biggest hit of the night. "I just got to two outs and wasn't able to make the pitch I needed to get out of the inning," Millwood said. "I felt good. I couldn't make the pitch when I needed to." Millwood's problems started with his first pitch of the game when Ichiro Suzuki smacked a double down the right-field line. Millwood got Franklin Gutierrez on a grounder to third and struck out Jose Lopez. But Ken Griffey Jr. grounded a single up the middle to drive home Suzuki with the first run of the game. Those two combined to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead in the third. Ichiro led off the inning with his ninth home run of the year and the Mariners added another run on a one-out single by Lopez and run-scoring double from Griffey. Julio Borbon struck back with a two-run home run for the Rangers in the bottom of the third off of Mariners starter Brandon Morrow, making it a one-run game. But Millwood couldn't keep it there, even though he was facing the bottom of the Mariners' order in the fourth. "We certainly needed a shutdown inning right there and we didn't get it," Washington said. Instead, Millwood walked Jack Hannahan and gave up a single to Jack Wilson, putting runners at first and second. Rob Johnson popped out trying to bunt the runners over and Millwood struck out Ichiro. That brought up Gutierrez, and he lined a 2-1 fastball down the right-field line to score both runners. It was the biggest hit of the night. Millwood then walked Lopez and that was the end of his night. Millwood slammed the rosin bag down in disgust as Washington came out to get him. "I had a chance to get out of that inning without anybody scoring," Millwood said. "If I had made one more pitch, I could have gotten out of it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.