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Millwood, Rangers blank O's in finale

Millwood, Rangers blank O's in finale

ARLINGTON -- This was a game the Rangers needed.

Starter Kevin Millwood tossed seven shutout innings, leading Texas past Baltimore, 3-0, in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Yes, the Rangers aren't playing for anything meaningful at this point, but the bullpen has pitched the most innings in the Majors and desperately needed Millwood to go deep on Sunday.

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The veteran right-hander did just that, scattering seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts for his first victory of September.

"It was huge because those [bullpen] guys are worn out, I can only imagine what their arms or what their bodies feel like," Millwood said. "They've been overworked all year and to give most of them a day off, it's a big deal."

In the first and fifth, Millwood got the Orioles to ground into inning-ending double plays. After giving up a leadoff hit in the seventh, he struck out the next three hitters. Millwood (10-13) now has double-digit victories for the second consecutive season and seventh in his career.

"I felt I mixed it up pretty good and kept them off balance," said Millwood, who improved to 5-0 against the Orioles in Texas.

The Rangers (72-84) backed Millwood with a two-out, second-inning rally to grab an early two-run lead. Jason Botts doubled to right and scored on Nelson Cruz's triple. Gerald Laird then drove in Cruz with an infield single.

The Rangers scored one more run off Orioles starter Jon Leicester in the sixth. Ian Kinsler led off with a bunt single and advanced to third on Michael Young's single. Kinsler scored on Marlon Byrd's grounder to short.

And, considering it was Fan Appreciation Day at the Ballpark, some fans might remember Leicester (2-3). He was the first player Rangers general manager Jon Daniels traded for, acquiring him from the Cubs on Nov. 16, 2005, for a player to be named.

Leicester was impressive in his fourth start this season, pitching all eight innings for the Orioles (66-89), their fourth complete game of the season -- something the Rangers have yet to do in 2007. If they don't get a complete game in their final six, the Rangers will be the only AL team with no complete games this season, joining the Marlins and Nationals.

"It stinks we can't get a complete game," Millwood said.

But, Millwood wasn't about to go risk a three-run lead on Sunday, not after throwing 104 pitches through the first seven.

"If we would've had eight or nine runs on the board, I might chance it," Millwood said. "I'm not going to be selfish and go back out there and take a chance of blowing it for this team.

"For a while, we've known we were out of it since the All-Star break. But, we never quit and we're still here to win."

The Rangers did just that, with Joaquin Benoit and C.J. Wilson finishing the game. After retiring the first two batters in the eighth, Benoit walked Nick Markakis and Miguel Tejada followed with a double to left to put runners on second and third. Aubrey Huff then hit a dribbler three feet past home plate, but Laird picked it up in fair territory and fired to first to end that threat.

"That was huge right there," Washington said. "If you talk to Gerald, he might say it was a simple play, but it had some english on it. It got us out of the inning."

Wilson then converted his 12th save of the season.

"The whole team needed [this win]," Wilson said. "To put a shutout on the board, it's huge."

Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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