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Millwood eyes sub-4.00 finish

Millwood eyes sub-4.00 finish

ANAHEIM -- Kevin Millwood has struggled for much of the second half, but he takes a two-game winning streak into Thursday afternoon's start against the Angels, and that has dropped his ERA to 3.75.

That's noteworthy as Millwood goes into his final start of the season. The Rangers haven't had a starting pitcher with an ERA of under 4.00 since Kenny Rogers had a 3.46 mark in 2005.

"I just want to keep pitching good and finish on a strong note," Millwood said.

Rogers also had a 3.84 ERA in 2002. The last Rangers right-hander to have an ERA under 4.00 was Ken Hill in 1996, when he finished at 3.63. With Millwood, this would be the fourth time a Rangers pitcher has finished with an ERA under 4.00 since 1996.

By comparison, the Athletics have had had 20 pitchers and the Mariners have had 17 record a sub-4.00 mark during the same span.

Millwood also enters the game with 189 2/3 innings pitched, most on the Rangers and six more than Scott Feldman. With only one start left for both pitchers, this will be the third straight season in which the Rangers have not had a starter pitch at least 200 innings.

Millwood also leads the Rangers with 113 strikeouts, four more than Feldman. Except for 1981, when they only played 105 games, the Rangers have never had a season where one of their starters did not strike out at least 120 batters.

The Rangers haven't had a pitcher strike out 200 batters in a season since Nolan Ryan fanned 203 in 1991. Since then their highest was Aaron Sele with 186 in 1999.

Millwood is finishing his fourth season with the Rangers and is 47-46 with a 4.60 ERA in 124 starts during that span. Since the start of the 2006 season, Millwood is tied for 22nd in games started, 28th with 746 innings and tied for 28th in wins.

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Kevin Millwood (12-10, 3.75 ERA)
Millwood is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his last two starts after winning just twice from July 1 to Sept. 12. He beat the Rays, 15-3, on Saturday while allowing three runs in seven innings. Prior to that, he beat the Athletics while allowing one run in seven innings. This has the potential to being the biggest start in his Rangers career, and he is 1-1 with a 6.56 ERA in four starts against the Angels this year. He is 4-5 with a 4.52 ERA against them in his career.

LAA: RHP John Lackey (11-8, 3.77 ERA)
Lackey labored through his second straight substandard performance against the A's in a no-decision on Saturday night. He yielded six earned runs on 10 hits and a walk in five innings, striking out two. After a four-game run of excellence (three earned runs, 33 2/3 innings), Lackey has given up 10 earned runs in his past 11 innings. Lackey is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts against the Rangers this year and 11-12, 5.83 lifetime in 31 outings.

Josh Hamilton was given permission to leave the team on Wednesday for personal reasons but said he might back for the final weekend in Seattle although he is not expected to play. ... Hank Blalock was removed on Wednesday after suffering a concussion during a bunt attempt by the Angels' Erik Aybar.

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Up next
• Friday: Rangers (Brandon McCarthy, 7-4, 4.47) at Mariners (Ian Snell, 7-10, 4.86), 9:10 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 9-5, 4.10) at Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith, 4-4, 3.91), 8:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Rangers (Scott Feldman, 17-7, 4.02) at Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 18-5, 2.48), 3:10 p.m. CT

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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