After spending the first six years of his career with the Braves, the 28-year-old right-hander was traded to the Phillies during the offseason for catcher Johnny Estrada in a cost-cutting deal for Atlanta.
Millwood went 18-8 with a 3.24 ERA last season and was rewarded by the Phillies, who inked him to a one-year, $9.9 million contract.
Though Millwood is enjoying another solid season, including a no-hitter against San Francisco on April 27, he has yet to celebrate a victory over the Braves.
Millwood is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts Atlanta. The losses came in back-to-back starts in June, capped with a 5-3 setback on June 24 in which he allowed five runs and seven hits, including three homers, over seven innings.
However, Millwood is 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA over his last five starts, including Wednesday’s 8-3 victory over Montreal. He yielded three runs, all in the first inning, and seven hits over eight innings, striking out eight and walking two.
Millwood felt he was getting squeezed by the home plate umpire in the first and allowed a three-run homer to Wil Cordero one pitch after he thought he struck him out looking.
“I was on the verge of doing something rookies do, when you let an umpire’s call bother you to the point where you quit pitching,” Millwood said.
“After I got out of (the first) inning, I still wasn’t happy, but I had to calm myself down to the point where I was going to go back out and pitch and give us a chance to win the game.”
The Phillies have won six straight and nine of 10 with Sunday’s 5-4, 11-inning win over the New York Mets. Marlon Byrd’s bases-loaded single in the 11th helped Philadelphia maintain its one-game lead over Florida in the NL wild-card race.
The NL East-leading Braves took three of four from the Pittsburgh Pirates with Sunday’s 2-1 victory. Javy Lopez used a more aggressive offensive approach to go 3-for-3 with a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, backing Mike Hampton’s strong outing.
“The last few weeks, I felt kind of strange at the plate,” Lopez said. “I felt like I had to take some pitches before taking the first swing. (Sunday) I said, ‘Forget it.’ I was swinging at anything around the plate.”
STANDINGS: Phillies - 2nd place, 11 GB, NL East. Braves - 1st place, NL East.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Millwood (14-9, 3.62 ERA). Opponents are hitting .236 and have an on-base percentage of .296 against Millwood, who has stuck out 150 and walked 58 over 193 2-3 innings this season.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Russ Ortiz (18-6, 3.76 ERA). The NL’s only 18-game winner, Ortiz is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA over his last two starts. The right-hander hasn’t gotten past the fifth inning in either outing, including Wednesday’s 9-3 loss to the New York Mets in which he allowed three runs and six hits, while striking out three and walking two. Ortiz is 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA and one complete game in 11 career starts against Philadelphia.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .323 avg.; Jim Thome, 39 HRs, 106 RBIs and 91 runs; Bobby Abreu, 18 SBs. Braves - Gary Sheffield, .334 avg. and 116 RBIs; Lopez, 37 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 117 runs and 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 7-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Phillies - Backup C Kelly Stinnett may get the start Monday because he is hitting .429 in 14 career at-bats against RHP Ortiz with four homers and seven RBIs. … The Phillies have lost 17 of their last 23 games on the road, but have won three straight. … INF Placido Polanco, sidelined with a sore left quadriceps, had an MRI his Sunday. He’s missed eight straight games and his status for Monday’s game remains uncertain. Braves - C Lopez is 3-for-5 with two solo homers against RHP Millwood this season. … The Braves’ magic number for clinching their 12th straight NL East crown is 10. … RHP John Smoltz, on the DL with a sore elbow, said he’s feeling better but isn’t ready to rejoin the team. Smoltz, who has 44 saves, threw a session in the bullpen on Saturday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Phillies - 34-37 on the road; Braves - 49-22 at home.
INJURIES: Phillies - INF Polanco (quadriceps), day-to-day; 3B David Bell (back), 15-day DL; RHP Terry Adams (oblique), 15-day DL. Braves - RHP Smoltz (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Damon Hollins (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Gryboski (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL.