ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—While the playoff-bound Los Angeles Angels and their fans were enjoying a postgame pep rally on the field, Kevin Millwood(notes) was in the visitor’s clubhouse savoring a positive ending to a difficult season.
Millwood recorded his third complete game of the year and 20th in 375 career starts, beating the Angels 11-3 on Thursday night. The 34-year-old right-hander gave up two earned runs and seven hits and tied a season high with 10 strikeouts. He threw a season-high 122 pitches.
“I didn’t want to come out. This was the last chance I got to play for a long time, so I wanted to stay out there as long as I could,” Millwood said. “We get paid to win ballgames, and that’s the way we’ve got to approach it. This place has been pretty miserable the last three days, so getting a win today was pretty important for us.”
Chris Davis(notes) homered among his three hits and had three RBIs, helping the Rangers avoid a four-game sweep to the team that eliminated them from postseason contention. Julio Borbon(notes) drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single to trigger a six-run sixth inning.
Millwood (13-10), who came within 1 1-3 innings of reaching the 200 mark for the sixth time in his 13-year career, finished with a 3.67 ERA in 31 starts— the second-best mark by any Rangers pitcher since 1997. Kenny Rogers(notes) had a 3.46 ERA in 2005.
“I think my season was better than the last couple obviously, but I still think there’s some room for improvement,” said Millwood, whose contract will pay him $12 million next season. “That lull I had after the All-Star break, it just can’t happen. So I’ll try to work on that in the offseason and spring training.”
Manager Ron Washington is looking forward to having Millwood back in his rotation next spring, especially after watching him win his last three starts.
“Millwood’s done a great job. He’s got his confidence back to where he wants to be,” Washington said. “I never had a bad feeling about Millwood. He had some problems he had to work out and he took some time off, which shows what a professional he is. He has pride and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure he’s being the Millwood we need.”
The Angels, who completed their home schedule with a 49-32 record, moved the starting time of this game up to 3 p.m. so that they could hold the postgame rally for their fans before heading to Oakland for a three-game series that closes out the regular schedule.
They open the division series in Anaheim next week against the Boston Red Sox, who beat them in the first round in each of the previous two years.
John Lackey(notes), who is expected to start the playoff opener, threw 40 pitches over two innings and allowed two runs on four hits in his final tuneup. The right-hander finished the regular season 11-8 with a 3.83 in 27 starts. His only start against Boston resulted in a 4-1 loss on Sept. 15 at Fenway Park.
Manager Mike Scioscia’s playoff rotation at the moment is Lackey, Jered Weaver(notes), Scott Kazmir(notes) and Joe Saunders(notes), with Ervin Santana(notes) going to the bullpen. Weaver, Kazmir and Saunders are all scheduled to get a final tuneup start in Oakland.
“You’ve got to like our four starters for sure, but they’ve got four pretty good guys, too,” Lackey said. “We’ve just got to perform. We’ve got to get it done. We’re tired of answering these questions. But until we win, it’s still going to be there.”
Lackey missed the first 33 games of the season because of a forearm strain.
Trevor Bell(notes) (1-2) relieved Thompson and broke Davis’ bat on a soft liner to shortstop. The barrel of the bat struck the rookie right-hander and flattened him for a few moments, but he was able to leave the field under his own power. He came back for the sixth and gave up all six runs in the inning as the Rangers grabbed a 9-3 lead.
Davis, who sat out the previous two games because of a left hamstring strain, opened the scoring in the second with his 21st home run after Kinsler’s leadoff single against Lackey, who was upset about Davis’ slow trot around the bases and said something to him along the way.
“He was going pretty slow, so I encouraged him to maybe move it along a little bit faster,” Lackey said. “He told (catcher Jeff) Mathis the next time he came up (about the hamstring problem). I didn’t know that until then, but it’s not a big deal now.”
Texas won the season series 12-7, matching the 2001 Rangers for the best record they’ve ever had against the Angels.
NOTES: The Angels’ first run was their 867th, breaking the previous single-season franchise record set in 1979. … The crowd of 38,552 gave the Angels a final home attendance figure of 3,240,386, their lowest total since 2003—which was the first season they reached the 3-million mark. … Marlon Byrd(notes) has a team-high 89 RBIs heading into Texas’ season-ending three-game series at Seattle. The last time the Rangers didn’t have anyone with at least 90 RBIs was 1983, when Larry Parrish led them with 88. … Vladimir Guerrero(notes) batted .404 this season against the Rangers, raising his career average against them to .396.