ANAHEIM -- Kevin Millwood, who struggled for much of the second half, finished the season with a flourish, throwing a complete game, tying his season-high strikeout total and extending his winning streak to three. He also helped snap the Rangers' four-game skid by pitching them to an 11-3 victory over the Angels on Thursday afternoon. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, with American League West title well in hand, went with a "B-game" lineup against Millwood. But that's the same lineup that had knocked the Rangers around the previous two days after Monday's division clincher. The Rangers were also going shorthanded themselves, and they are trying to nail down second place in the division.
"We've still got something to play for," Millwood said. "Plus, nobody likes to lose. This place has been pretty miserable the last three days, so I felt like getting a win was pretty important." Millwood threw 122 pitches, the most he has thrown in 125 starts for the Rangers. "It was my last chance to play for a long time, so I wanted to stay out there as long as I can," Millwood said. Millwood received plenty of support from a lineup that was absent Michael Young, Marlon Byrd, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. That's three All-Stars and their RBI leader (Byrd), but the Rangers still had 15 hits, including three by Chris Davis. Davis, playing with a strained left hamstring and limited to designated-hitter duty, hit a two-run homer off Angels starter John Lackey in the second. Davis limped around the bases, and Lackey apparently took exception to that. The two had words as Davis returned to the dugout. "I guess he didn't think I was getting around the bases fast enough. I really didn't hear him until I rounded third base and he said, 'Hurry the expletive up.' He's just frustrated giving up a home run. That's the type of competitor he is. I don't take it personally. "He definitely had no idea I was hurt. I can't see myself run around the bases, but I wasn't being disrespectful. I ran like I always do with my head down. I didn't do anything different." Lackey, who only pitched two innings in a tuneup for the playoffs, said he didn't know about the injury until Davis told Angels catcher Jeff Mathis later in the game. "I encouraged him to maybe move a little faster," Lackey said. "It's no big deal now. I knew I was only throwing so it was like, 'Come on.'" Millwood held the Angels to three runs on seven hits while striking out 10, tying a season high set against the Giants on June 21. It's only the fourth time he has recorded double-digit strikeouts with the Rangers. "Millwood did a great job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We were finally able to put something together offensively, and Millwood did the rest." He gave up three runs in the third, including a two-run homer from Kendry Morales. But he also retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced and struck out eight of the last 13. He ended up going nine innings for only the second time this season. The other was in a 2-0 loss to the Royals and Zack Greinke on April 18. He also had an eight-inning complete game in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers on May 21. Millwood is now 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in three starts since the Rangers shut him down for nine days. That was to allow Millwood time to work on his mechanics. But it also allowed time to debate whether the Rangers let Millwood go past the 180-innings mark and guarantee his $12 million for 2010. "I never had any bad feeling about Millwood," Washington said. "He had to take some time off, but once he was ready, he showed he has some pride and can be the Millwood we need. He had a period of time where he struggled but today he showed he has his command back." Millwood looks like a much better investment since then. He finished at 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA, the fourth-lowest ERA by a Rangers pitcher since the Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994. "It was OK," Millwood said. "It was better than the last couple of seasons. There is still some room for improvement. The lull I had after the All-Star break, that just can't happen. I just need to make sure I do what I can so it doesn't happen again."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.