With the offense struggling, the AL West-leading Rangers can win with pitching and defense.
Millwood threw 7 2-3 scoreless innings Thursday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Rangers went on for only its fourth 1-0 victory in 16 seasons since moving into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
“Tonight, that’s all we needed,” manager Ron Washington said. “We needed to get a win, and it doesn’t matter how you get it. … We are going to get it together offensively. Everybody can go in a little rut. But our heads are high. We just won a 1-0 game in Arlington.”
Texas, which didn’t homer in the rain-shortened three-game series and lost 9-0 in the previous game Tuesday, got its run when Marlon Byrd(notes) hit a sacrifice fly in the second off Ricky Romero(notes) (3-3).
“That’s what good teams do. You can’t play 10-8 games every night,” said David Murphy(notes), who followed Nelson Cruz’s(notes) leadoff single with a double to set up Byrd’s flyball. “We’re not doing what we’re capable of, but it takes the pressure off of us when the pitchers go out doing what they’re doing.”
Millwood (6-4) gave up five hits with one strikeout and hit a batter while throwing 105 pitches against the Blue Jays, who were shut out for only the second time.
The right-hander has allowed two earned runs over 20 2-3 innings his last three starts. The last two victories followed lopsided losses by Texas.
“It shows we can win in different ways,” Millwood said. “My stuff wasn’t great, but I felt like I was able to locate and kept them off balance. We caught the ball when they hit it.”
Darren O’Day(notes) got Alex Rios(notes) to ground out after taking over with a runner at second and two outs in the eighth, then Vernon Wells(notes) popped out to open the ninth. The side-winding right-hander has thrown nine scoreless innings his past nine appearances.
“Kevin set the tone,” Wilson said. “All Darren and I had to do was throw strikes and let guys get themselves out.”
Romero limited Texas to one run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings, his best outing since returning from the disabled list (oblique strain). The left-hander had allowed 13 earned runs and seven home runs over 16 1-3 innings his previous three starts.
“It’s a big confidence,” Romero said.
“It was nice to see him pitch that well,” manager Cito Gaston said. “We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed it. Any loss is tough, but when a guy pitches that well and we had a chance in the first inning to drive in some runs and we didn’t do it.”
Texas got its fourth shutout with some standout defense.
Millwood jumped up to snag one ground ball and knocked another comebacker down with his bare hand before completing that play. And the infield turned in several standout plays.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler(notes) made a scrambling stop, stumbled and regained his balance to make the throw to get Lyle Overbay(notes) out in the second. Rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus(notes) caught a foul pop falling into the first row along the third-base side in the fifth.
Michael Young(notes), the AL Gold Glove shortstop last season who moved to third base to make room for Andrus, made a diving snag to his left to get Rios’ grounder and then shuffled to his feet and made a strong one-hop throw to first for the final out of the sixth.
Notes: Blue Jays 1B Overbay was 0-for-4, ending his 15-game hitting streak. … Rangers radio play-by-play man Eric Nadel returned to the booth after missing six games because of right eye surgery. Before the surgery, he had called 3,176 consecutive games since 1989.